Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Begich gives maiden speech, introduces Inuvikput bills. Love it.

I was really expecting a sort of typical, "Let's drill!" sort of focus, not because that's what Begich tends to do, but when an Alaskan politician gets in front of the U.S. Senate, that's kind of what I expect. Okay... not really fair, but it was a pretty long time, with a pretty big spotlight, to have the floor, and I think it's awesome that it was about the Arctic - preservaton, responsiblity, focus on those most affected in the regions. He mentions drilling, but in the light of needing more responsibility, including ensuring safe drilling in the first place, and ensuring those in the region aren't affected, and protection if they are.

He uses an Inupiaq word to describe the package of bills - Inuvikput - and really gives an awful lot of attention and focus on Native and rural issues and impact. Worth a listen to:

There's more details on some of the bills on Shannyn Moore's page, including:

Arctic OCS Revenue Sharing Act – Alaska Natives who have subsisted on marine mammals and other arctic resources for thousands of years would bear the direct risks of increased commercial activity in their waters. This bill directs a portion of federal revenues from offshore oil and gas development – the same share Louisiana receives from drilling in the adjacent Gulf of Mexico – to the State of Alaska with a percentage of those funds directed to those most affected.

Arctic Health Research Act – People of the Arctic suffer from increased rates of alcohol abuse, diabetes, high blood pressure, and death from injury and suicide. This act would initiate a study into the mental, behavioral and physical health problems in the Arctic, institute an Arctic health assessment program at the Centers for Disease Control and create an “Arctic desk” at the National Institute of Health that was called for in 1984 but has never been established.

Yes - this is EXACTLY why I voted for Begich!!

He also mentioned something about a bill he is still considering giving - something that got tabled - on an Arctic advisory council:

Begich said he is considering introducing an additional piece of legislation focused on providing the people of Alaska's Arctic with more of a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. The bill would establish an Arctic Regional and Citizens Advisory Council, modeled after similar councils which successfully operate in the Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet regions of Alaska. At the request of the North Slope Borough mayor, Begich said he held off introducing the bill pending further discussions with the people of Alaska's North Slope, as well and industry and regulatory stakeholders.


A. Towns said...

Hey, when did he deliver this speech, do you know?

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