Walker signs administrative order on climate change
After nearly three years in office, Gov. Bill Walker signed an administrative order Tuesday that creates a commission to address climate change.
“We’ve spent some time looking at other options with how to address this. We chose to go our own route rather than joining another group, so it just took a little bit more time than we wanted it to,” Walker told reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Walker says the state will follow the goals of the Paris Accord, even though President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement earlier this year.
“I don’t think anyone is more knowledgeable about the Arctic than Alaskans. The United States is an Arctic nation only for one reason, it’s because of Alaska,” said Walker.
Administrative Order 289 creates the Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team, comprised of 15 members of the public and commissioners from three state departments.
The group is tasked with preparing a set of recommendations to a working group within the Walker/Mallott administration on 4 primary topics:
- Mitigation of the state's carbon footprint
- Adaptation to a changing environment
- Research surrounding climate change
- Response to natural disasters
The leadership team will be required to provide recommendations and progress reports on a quarterly basis. A preliminary action plan is due to the governor by Sept. 1, 2018.
It’s the type of task force Griffin Plush and other young Alaskans have been pushing for, the last three years. Plush is now a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state for lack of action on a climate change petition.
“This is basically a further delay, right, I mean, we’re not talking about real action yet. This is a further delay. Real action, which requires emissions reductions in our state which requires transitioning away from this petroleum-based economy,” Plush said of the administrative order.
But Ocean Conservancy, the creation of the leadership team is better late than never.
“We’re grateful for that long-term thinking and that long-term perspective and also bringing in a diverse set of stakeholders for an inclusive, and a holistic process is a really important thing,” said Michael LeVine, a spokesperson for the organization.
The announcement comes after a group of young Alaskans, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA), filed a lawsuit against the state in August. AYEA calls for a regular inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and a reduction of those pollutants.
Officials within the Walker/Mallott administration say the 15 members of the public chosen as part of the leadership team will include representatives from a broad group of stakeholders including:
- Coastal communities
- The university system
- The oil and gas industry
Applications for the leadership team will be accepted through the state boards and commissions web application system through Nov. 14, 2017.
According to administration officials, Walker will appoint team members before the end of this year.