Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mark Begich responds to Alaska Climate Action Network's questionnaire


Early in the campaign season, the Alaska Climate Action Network (AK CAN!) sent the following comprehensive questionnaire to all registered candidates for state legislative seats.  We did not send it to candidates for the Governor's seat but former Senator Mark Begich reached out and here is his response:

CLIMATE CHANGE

There is broad consensus among climate scientists that the planet's average surface temperature has risen 0.9 degrees Celsius (~1.62 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century, that it's extremely likely due to human activities* and that Alaska is warming more than twice as fast as the global average with annual air temperatures increasing by 3°F and average winter temperature by 6°F over the past 60 years. 

Impacts from climate change are evident across Alaska and include: glacier, sea ice and permafrost melt, sea level rise, coastal erosion, ocean warming and acidification, increased wildfires, disease and insect outbreaks, invasive species and widespread ecological changes.
 

CAUSE & CONSEQUENCE: Please indicate your current understanding of climate change and its effects in Alaska (check all that apply). 

The climate is changing primarily due to excessive carbon emissions from human activities.
Alaska's climate is changing 2-3 times faster than the global average.

Please elaborate on your views of global climate change below.

Climate change is real. In Alaska, we are experiencing the impacts of climate change more intensely than almost anywhere else. Alaskans know climate change; we see it around us every day – warming waters, increasing storm intensity and frequency, changing fish patterns, eroding coastlines, and warming permafrost. The impacts to our coastal communities and infrastructure is estimated in the billions. Acting on climate change is an international imperative and Alaska has already developed the expertise to help the rest of the world deal with both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change impacts. By addressing climate change head-on and providing the opportunity for the private sector hone their skills, we can market as Alaska as a global leader in climate change and a champion for action. 

How important is climate change in Alaska?  2 on a scale of 1(most)-5 (least) importance 

Please elaborate on your thoughts and beliefs about the importance of climate change in Alaska in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change would you sponsor and support? 

My climate action plan consists of three pillars: 

1)    Hone Alaska’s Climate Expertise by Jumpstarting our Climate-Ready Construction Industry: I would utilize general obligation (GO) bonds for long-term capital improvements. These GO bonds would not only jumpstart our construction industry paralyzed by five years of meager capital budgets, but they would also require that all projects move Alaska towards greater energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and improved climate readiness. This approach will provide a jolt to employment while also ensuring that each dollar spent helps advance our workforce and develops the needed technology to make Alaska an expert and leader on climate change. I will accelerate the efforts of the Alaska Energy Authority and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to deploy energy efficient and clean energy technology throughout Alaska housing projects. I will also implement the recently-passed PACE legislation to help commercial and municipal building owners to adopt energy-efficient building technologies. 

2)    Market Alaska as the “Go-To” Place for Climate Expertise: Just as I did as Mayor of Anchorage through an international Arctic mayor’s forum and a U.S. Conference of Mayors climate tour I hosted, I will showcase the climate impacts in Alaska and the solutions we have developed. As Governor, I will join the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance and use the Alliance as a platform to share what Alaska is doing to address and adapt to a changing climate. Alaska’s private sector, University researchers, and local and state officials have a lot to share with the rest of the world, but we need a platform and a Governor who will tell that story. Using our grit and ingenuity in tough conditions once made us a world leader in telecommunications and the oil and gas industry. It is time we used that same model to build an industry around clean energy, energy-efficiency, and climate-friendly infrastructure and purchasing policies. 

3)    Re-establish a Permanent Climate Sub-Cabinet: Bureaucracy, lack of leadership, and lack of attention often stalls good projects that allow us to understand climate change and be prepared for the changes we know are coming. Without a structure in place, we cannot see action on the good ideas coming from within government, from the current Climate Leadership team, and from the public. That is why I would create a defined structure that would vet concepts and advance good ideas so we don’t see another decade of stagnation. I would also implement a clearly defined set of goals and metrics for this cabinet to regularly assess progress and ensure this doesn’t become another layer of do-nothing bureaucracy. With the right leadership, Alaska has the unmatched ability to cement ourselves as climate leaders both nationally and internationally. 

AT RISK COASTAL COMMUNITIES

In 2003 the US Government Accountability Office found that more than 200 Native Alaskan villages were affected by coastal flooding and erosion and in 2003, federal, state, and village officials identified 31 villages that face imminent threats*. The communities of Newtok and Shishmaref have already voted to relocate but lack full funding. What do you see as possible sources of funding for village relocation (select all that apply)? 

·      Federal emergency relief funding
·      International climate-finance institutions
·      Private and charity financing 

Please describe your position on coastal community relocation in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies would you sponsor and support? 

Community relocation presents a tremendous challenge for Alaska but is also an opportunity to help stabilize communities and put them on a healthier, stronger path. As U.S. Senator, I pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to fund community relocation projects and championed an innovative military program that helped build community infrastructure for Mertarvik. I also pushed FEMA to address the disaster threat posed by coastal and river erosion. The Federal Government has a responsibility under the Stafford Disaster Relief Act to address the slow-moving disaster of climate change in the same way it helps communities in the lower 48 after a hurricane or tornado. As Governor, I would pursue continued funding for community relocation and climate resilience upgrades through the Denali Commission. I would also push for more disaster relief funding through FEMA. Alaska can’t just rely on the federal government for relocation projects any longer. Through my general obligation bond plan mentioned above, we can help rural communities plan for and undertake village relocation if there is local support. Construction projects selected for inclusion in the bonding will need to demonstrate their climate readiness so we aren’t building and rebuilding the same projects over and over, decade after decade. 

FISHERIES: Ocean warming and acidification, species population shifts, declining food resources, invasive species and other climate related impacts are changing Alaska fisheries. As a legislator, what specific policies would you sponsor and support to protect Alaska fisheries? 

I support updating Title 16, the salmon habitat laws enacted before I was born. Fisheries are Alaska’s most valuable renewable resource. We must protect this resource and the thousands of jobs our fisheries support. Empowering the Department of Natural Resources, ensuring consistency in permitting from one administration to the next, and basing permitting on a set of science-based standards ensures the needs of resource developers, conservationists, tourism, and the fishing industry are balanced. 

OUR FUTURE ENERGY ECONOMY 

Scientific studies indicate that in order to avoid catastrophic (>2°C) warming, globally, a third of known oil reserves, half of known gas reserves, 80% of coal reserves and 100% of Arctic and unconventional oil reserves must be kept in the ground*. Many experts predict that the global economy will transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in response to declining costs for renewable energy and storage, technological innovation, Paris Agreement commitments and other trends. 

Nations and states, like Alaska, that depend heavily on fossil fuel production and export, are increasingly at risk of having substantial stranded fossil fuel assets** as global energy markets shift away from fossil fuels in favor of low-carbon energy sources. Please share your views on these critical energy issues facing Alaska below. 

Please indicate your level of concern about Alaska's continued dependence on fossil fuel revenue in a changing world.

I am very concerned, we should transition our economy away from fossil fuel dependency as rapidly as possible: 2 on a scale of 1/5

Please share your vision for Alaska's economic future. What role will fossil fuels play in our economy 10, 20, 30 years from now? How might Alaska diversify and stabilize its economy? How can we build a sustainable economy that benefits all Alaskan's? As a legislator, what specific policies related to our future economy would you sponsor and support?

Currently, the state budget only relies on fossil fuels for 30% of revenues - down from 80%. This creates a unique opportunity. I have laid out a plan of how protecting the permanent fund plays a role in generating revenues for the state while still guaranteeing a dividend. The question is how we diversify our economy now to build new revenue sources and how we use interest from the Alaska Permanent Fund to support our state as we transition to a more diversified economy and tax structure. First, I believe we need to invest in supporting Alaska’s fisheries economy and expand markets worldwide. I have spoken out strongly against the President’s tariffs that threaten overseas seafood markets for Alaska. I also believe we need to invest in tax incentives to attract new business to Alaska or home-grown businesses launched by Alaska entrepreneurs. I believe we need to create an Alaska-focused “angel fund” for these benefits that is endowed with funding from the Permanent Fund interest payments.

NATURAL GAS: 

Various plans have been proposed to develop Alaska's 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. While natural gas burns about half as much carbon dioxide as coal and 30% less than oil, recent research suggests that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the entire gas production-consumption cycle may be significantly higher, especially for unconventionally produced (i.e. "fracked") gas. Please indicate your position on natural gas development in Alaska below. 

Alaska should develop and market both its conventional and unconventional natural gas resources to the greatest extent possible
The goal is simple – we need to get our gas to market and ensure that Alaskans receive the benefit in doing so. If the gasline is going to be a feasible part of this process, it cannot be majority-owned by the Chinese government. The ongoing trade war between the federal government and China is a reminder that we must balance the financing needs of the project with the responsibility to protect our state assets and sovereignty. We must also ensure that the gasline is one piece of any approach to a stronger economy – it cannot be the only piece. We must simultaneously manage the needs of other key industries and projects that support our economy like opportunities in the changing arctic, fishing, travel & tourism, and more. 

LNG EXPORT: Governor Walkers Liquid Natural Gas pipeline and export project is projected to cost $43 billion and require extraction of 200 trillion cubic feet of conventional natural gas. Another 590 trillion cubic feet of shale, tight gas, and gas hydrates would need to be developed using unconventional drilling methods (i.e. "fracking") to sustain the project over "the long term". Please indicate your position on the LNG export project below. 

I support LNG export but oppose Governor Walkers LNG Plan 

Please elaborate on your position on LNG export and Governor Walkers Plan in more detail below. 

As part of my plan to get Alaska gas to market and monetize it for the benefit of all Alaskans, I would: Issue an Executive Order Requiring a Gasline be Constructed with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA): On day one, I would issue an executive order requiring a PLA for this project. This is how the oil pipeline was built decades ago and is the only way to guarantee the jobs created by this project are filled with our skilled Alaska workforce first. Prevent Majority Foreign Ownership: As Governor, I would refuse to engage in any deal that provides a majority ownership to a foreign government or entity that has interest counter to those of Alaskans. We cannot allow our gas to become controlled by a foreign government who has no interest or obligation in making sure that Alaskans are the first to see the real benefits of bringing our gas to market. 

What is your position on the "stand alone" gas line? 

I think providing access to clean burning natural gas for Alaskans is a laudable goal, but there may be better ways to do it than building a pipeline of this scale. Without a large customer, it is hard to see how a project of this scale makes financial sense. We need to make sure that the end goal is getting Alaska gas to market and monetizing that gas to the benefit of all Alaskans – not any specific pet project. 

FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES: Alaska is among the nations top oil producing states. We also have one of the most generous fossil fuel subsidy programs in the US. For example, in 2011 (the latest figures we were able to confirm), Alaska gave $765 million to industry*. Please elaborate on your understanding of oil and gas subsides below. 

Tax write-offs and subsidies for oil and gas should be eliminated as soon as possible: 2/5 

Please elaborate on your position on oil and gas industry subsidies in Alaska below. As a legislator, what specific policies related to fossil fuel subsidies would you sponsor and support? 

Alaska’s oil and gas industry pay some of the lowest taxes in the world, even after changes to our credit system not reflected in the 2011 figures. I applaud the work of the legislature this session to end cashable credits for the oil and gas industry, but there is more work to be done. Our oil and gas royalty and incentive system is the most complicated in the world. The industry pays hundreds of lawyers and accountants to maximize their profits - as is their legal responsibility to their stockholders. The state doesn’t have the money or personnel to understand our own laws that ultimately end up putting us at a disadvantage. In Alaska, our Constitution says we all share our resources. As the trustees for those resources, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the peoples’ interests are safeguarded and those resources are developed for our maximum benefit. Our first responsibility must be to the people of Alaska. As Governor, I will work with the Legislature, industry, and NGO partners to make our tax structure cleaner, clearer, and as transparent as possible creating certainty for both the public and the industry. 

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

ANWR comprises 19 million acres of the north Alaskan coast between the Beaufort Sea, Brooks Range and Prudhoe Bay. It is the largest protected wilderness in the nation, created by Congress under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Section 1002 of ANILCA deferred a decision on the management of oil and gas exploration and development of 1.5 million acres in the coastal plain, known as the "1002 area". Oil exploration in the 1002 area has long been controversial with arguments centering around the amount of economically recoverable oil, weighed against the environmental harms, in particular, impacts on the Porcupine caribou herd calving grounds. The Gwich’in, are highly dependent on the Porcupine herd for subsistence and strongly oppose drilling in ANWR as do other Alaskan Tribal governments. In 2017, Congress authorized oil and gas leasing in the 1002 area through a rider on the Tax Bill. Please describe your views below. 

4/5 I support oil and gas development in ANWR 

Please elaborate on your position on oil and gas development vs protection of the 1002 area of ANWR in more detail below. 

I am in favor of opening the 1002 area for drilling. I have also said that it should be done with the smallest possible footprint and is done in a way that respects the subsistence use of the region by the Indigenous People of the area as a priority. As Governor, I would ensure all interests are represented and fairly considered as planning moves forward. 

OFFSHORE DRILLING

It's well known that industry lacks the ability to contain an oil spill in the rough, cold waters of the Arctic. Yet, the current administration is moving to open northern waters to oil and gas exploration in conjunction with loosening regulations. Please describe your views on Arctic offshore oil and gas development below. 
 
4/5 I support all off-shore oil and gas development

Please elaborate on your position on offshore oil and gas development in more detail below. 

I am a supporter of responsible offshore oil and gas development. I am also a strong supporter of an open, public process that gives local communities the ability to weigh in and have a say in any project that could impact their economy and/or way of life. I also believe we should develop new technologies to ensure we have the best oil spill response capabilities. I also believe our University system should be a leader on this for Alaska and the world. 

Please share your ideas on how the state of Alaska might help protect Arctic waters and coastal communities from potential oil spills in the absence of Federal action? As a legislator, what specific policies would you sponsor and support? 

As U.S. Senator, my first package of legislation addressed a multi-pronged effort to address the changing Arctic and what that means for oil exploration, shipping, health and climate change. I called this my Inuvikput legislation to highlight that our first priority was to protect the people of the Arctic and the land and waters they depend on. I also proposed expanding to the Arctic the Regional Citizens Advisory Council (RCAC) that has worked in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. RCACs are critical to ensuring local residents have a voice in Arctic policy and investments. I opposed elimination of Alaska’s Coastal Zone Management Program by Governor Parnell, arguing it took away local input and could set back Alaska’s leadership role in Arctic development. As Governor, I would introduce legislation to bring the Coastal Zone Management program back and protect our rights. I also strongly pushed for increased funding for oil spill preparedness and response in the Arctic. As a member of the Armed Services Committee and Appropriations Committee in the U.S. Senate, I fought for Defense Department investment in these arenas. Along with former North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta, I pushed for northern deployment of military resources to help ensure our Arctic communities are prepared for the opening of the Arctic ocean. 

HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: the scientific evidence is growing that high-volume, slick-water hydraulic fracturing (i.e. "fracking") poses significant risks to air and groundwater quality and human health and increases the likelihood and severity of earthquakes. Please rate your level of support for stronger fracking regulations in Alaska. 

Fracking should be banned in Alaska – 3 - There should be no change in fracking regulations in Alaska 

Please elaborate on your position on fracking in Alaska in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies related to fracking would you sponsor and support? 

Alaska has a record of safely fracking. As I always have, I would support open, public, and transparent processes so that communities have a chance to weigh in on any project in their community and are fully briefed on the details before a project moves forward. 

OIL MONEY IN POLITICS: Money in politics threatens to undo our Democratic institutions. The oil and gas industry in particular, has great influence in Alaska government and politics. Please share your thoughts on the influence of money in government and politics in Alaska and what you think should, if anything, be done to minimize the influence of industry and strengthen the voices of people and rural communities. 

When I was in the United States Senate, I supported Senator Bernie Sanders’ legislation to repeal Citizens United. The Citizens United decision was a shameful moment in our history, and one that exacerbated an already broken system. The anecdote to the corrupting influence of money in politics is transparency. That’s why in 2008, I committed to using only electronic filling for all of my campaign expenditures, ensuring the public can see what I am spending my money on before election day. I am interested in exploring how states can increase transparency within their election systems. In Montana, for example, companies awarded high value government contracts will be required to publicly disclose all campaign donations. Accountability and transparency are essential to ensuring the people’s faith in their elected officials. As Governor, I would veto any legislation that undermines our current Alaska campaign finance laws. We have some of the most restrictive campaign finance laws in the country which I support. I will also use the full force of my Administration to oppose any Outside group trying to attack or undermine these rules. 

Has your campaign received, or expect to receive support (monetary or otherwise) from the oil and gas industry? 

No 

DIVESTMENT
As global energy markets decarbonize and shift towards renewable energy sources, fossil fuel investments are viewed as increasingly risky. Norway, the World Bank, the bank of France and other large financial institutions have or are seriously considering divesting from fossil fuel and related high-risk investments. A recently study published in Nature Climate Change found that oil producing states like Alaska are particularly at risk of being left with $billions in stranded assets. To reduce the risk to Alaskans, AK CAN is calling on the Alaska Permanent Fund to divest from fossil fuels. Please indicate your position on divestment below. 
Should the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation divest from fossil fuel and related high-risk investments? 

Yes, over the next 5-10 years

Please elaborate on your position on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing (including fossil fuel divestment) below. As a legislator, what specific ESG/divestment policies would you sponsor and support? 

The world is moving away from fossil fuels, whether the United States wishes to join every other economy on earth in moving that direction will be up to us to decide. China and the EU are already taking steps to outlaw the internal combustion engine. At the same time, consumers all over the world are demanding social action from the biggest companies, from the extraction industry to tech to clothing. Considering environmental, social, and governance practices when examining our investment portfolio is certainly about ensuring our investments reflect our values, but it is also about what makes smart economic sense. As evidenced by the presentation on ESG investing earlier this summer, our current Permanent Fund Trustee Board lacks leadership and vision necessary to enact a standalone divestment policy. At the same time, the Permanent Fund has already been moving away from fossil fuels because our investment analysts recognize that they present a risk. As Governor, I will appoint a greater diversity of Trustees with the hope that they will encourage a continued investing practices which minimize the funds exposure to climate risk. As a first step, I will encourage the Permanent Fund to divest from the eight Russian companies currently sanctioned by the Federal Government. If Americans are not allowed to invest in these companies because of their ties to the illegal actions of the Russian government, then why are we supporting them with our money? They are a risky investment and do not represent our values. 

CARBON PRICING 

Many leaders, even in the oil and gas industry, agree that it's time to put a price on carbon in order to incentivize decarbonization of the global economy. Please indicate your level of support and preferences for an Alaska carbon pricing scheme below. Please check all that apply. 

No support for carbon pricing in any form

Please elaborate on your position on carbon pricing in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies related to carbon pricing would you sponsor and support? 

I believe that with the right policies in place to adequately address climate change, a carbon tax may not even be necessary. My biggest concern is ensuring that any carbon tax policies do not have unintentional, negative impacts on Alaska working families. While I have never personally supported a carbon tax, I have been outspoken on what any structure or impacts should look like. 

Alaska's expertise administering the Permanent Fund Dividend makes it an obvious choice to pilot a revenue neutral national carbon fee and dividend program. Would you support a state pilot project? 

No 

RENEWABLE ENERGY & EFFICIENCY 

Alaska has among the most diverse, quality renewable energy resources in the nation. We are a leader in microgrid technology and rural Alaska has numerous integrated utility systems, including some (such as Kodiak) that are at or close to 100% renewable. Plummeting costs, technological innovation and the Paris Climate Agreement are incentivizing a rapid global shift away from fossil fuel to renewable, fuel-free energy generation sources. Please indicate your positions regarding renewable energy in Alaska below. 

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources are now cheaper, support more jobs per dollar invested and are growing faster than the fossil fuel sector. Please indicate your level of support for transitioning Alaska to a 100% renewable energy-powered economy by 2050. 

Alaska should transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050: 2/5 

Please elaborate on your position on renewable energy in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies related to renewable energy would you sponsor and support?

As Governor, I would implement policies to grow our economy and lower energy costs while reducing carbon emissions, improve community resilience and self-sufficiency, and ensure equity in investment so the benefits of reduced carbon emissions benefit every corner of the state. At present, energy programs are spread all over state government. That means agencies are moving in all different directions, spending money when available, but without seeing much forward movement as a whole. We have a lot of smart, motivated people working on these issues in state government. We also have communities spread across the state being crushed by high energy costs. Alaska needs one unified plan and one agency responsible for community engagement, implementing inclusive policies, and most importantly: taking action. 

Make Alaska a global leader in clean energy technology Implement a roadmap to achieve our goal of 50% renewable energy by 2025. Convert the State’s vehicle fleet to electric/gas electric hybrid expediting EV charging infrastructure. Set clean energy procurement goals for the State and reduce barriers for purchasing electricity and heat that will save the money and reduce energy use. Seek out partnerships with the private sector achieve scale in our rural communities and deploy emerging technology on Alaska’s microgrids.
Develop our clean tech workforce Lack of a trained workforce is driving up the cost of clean energy projects across Alaska, meanwhile we have the highest unemployment rate in the country. Engage unions, the university system, vocational training programs, and the private sector to ensure we have a workforce ready to go from Kotzebue to Kake. 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Energy efficiency improvements would save state and local government, business and residents $ millions in annual energy savings while reducing Alaska's overall greenhouse emissions. Please indicate your level of support for energy efficiency measures below. 

I support improving Alaska's energy efficiency by 40% by 2035 

Please elaborate on your views of energy efficiency below. As a legislator, what specific energy efficiency policies and programs would you sponsor and support? 

There is no cheaper or easier way to reduce carbon emissions than energy efficiency. Alaska should be the most energy efficient state in the country. The economic benefits for us make efficiency a no brainer. We also have some of the best building systems engineers in the world located right here. As Governor, I would set by Administrative Order, a goal to reduce overall electric energy use by 10 percent by 2025, while continuing to grow the economy. I would seek out contracts with the private sector to perform energy audits and energy efficiency upgrades on all public buildings, including schools using energy performance contracting to reduce the state’s upfront costs. I also propose to restart Alaska’s weatherization program to provide relief to Alaskans with the highest energy costs. 

RAILBELT UTILITY SYSTEM

Alaska's Railbelt utility system serves 70% of Alaskans, consumes 80% of its electricity and is currently serviced by 6 different utilities. Alaska utility experts widely agree that a single regional generation and transmission entity would improve economies of scale and efficiency, reduce costly reserve requirements, allow full integration of storage and non-dispatchable resources, such as wind and solar and significantly reduce costs to ratepayers on the Railbelt. Utilities have been unable to reach agreement and recent efforts have turned to the State legislature. Would you support legislation creating a unified operator system for the Railbelt? 

Maybe 

DEREGULATION
  
Texas, Oregon, Iowa, Illinois and many other states have spurred lower energy prices and rapid expansion of renewable energy through deregulation. Please indicate your level of support for deregulation of Alaska's energy markets. 

I support full deregulation of Alaska's energy markets [response was 3/neutral] I oppose deregulation of Alaska's energy markets 

FOOD SECURITY

Local food production, subsistence and food security, defined by Hamm (2009) as “......a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.” Climate change is expected to disrupt global and regional food production systems and Alaskan communities are disproportionately vulnerable due to our remoteness and limited growing season.

In 2014, the Alaska Food Policy Council found that 95% of the $2 billion of food Alaskans purchase annually is imported, that rural Alaskans rely on subsistence for up to 80% of their food needs and that climate change threatens both rural and urban food security. Please indicate your views on the importance of food security in Alaska below.  

Food security is an urgent issue that requires immediate action: 2 

Please elaborate on your views of local food production, subsistence and food security in Alaska in more detail below. As a legislator, what specific policies would you sponsor and support? 

Subsistence is a traditional and customary way of life that is essential to the nutritional, economic, and cultural well-being of Alaska Natives and rural Alaskans. As Governor, I would take any and all actions necessary to ensure that the State supports these critical rights. This also means ensuring that the State does not participate in any activity that could jeopardize subsistence rights like the State’s recent support of the Sturgeon case which could have devastating impacts on our rural communities. A changing climate means new challenges to subsistence hunting and fishing and threatens our way of life. I understand the importance of people’s connection to food. That’s why, during my time in the Senate, I passed legislation that allowed traditional Native foods to be served at hospitals and nursing facilities. As Governor, I would prioritize subsistence hunting and fishing, including supporting Federal public lands. Food and water security are essential for rural and urban Alaska, alike. Encouraging local food production is good for our health, our economy, and the environment. I would also re-establish the Governor’s Food Resource Working Group with a goal to identify within the first 90 days any opportunities and gaps in the state’s food policy and create a plan to move forward from there. I would also direct procurement officers from the University, Department of Administration, Department of Corrections, and others to update procurement policies to favor locally grown meat and produce, even when it is above the 7% price discrepancy target and set local food procurement targets for all state agencies. Finally, I would direct more arable public lands be made available to small and experimental farming to encourage agricultural innovation. 

CO-MANAGEMENT 

Conflicts between subsistence, sport and commercial harvesting are rife in rural Alaska. Co-management is an emerging solution that strengthens Tribal sovereignty in partnership with state and federal agencies. Would you support efforts to increase co-management of Alaska's state lands and wildlife resources? 

Yes 

Last question, thank you again for responding to our questionnaire! As our potential elected representative, it is very important that voters understand your positions and thinking on the critical climate and energy related issues facing Alaska. Is there anything else you would like the AK CAN! partner groups and members to know about you and your campaign that was not covered? 

Nothing I can think of. Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough questions.




Mark Begich responds to Alaska Climate Action Network's questionnaire

E arly in the campaign season, the Alaska Climate Action Network (AK CAN!) sent the following comprehensive questionnaire to all regist...