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Policymakers Push Back On Trump's Repeal Of Climate Change Initiatives

Sen. Lisa Murkowski addresses a crowd gathered in Bethel to celebrate the upcoming completion of GCI's TERRA project.
Dean Swope

President Trump's latest move to scale back Obama administration climate change initiatives is not impressing Alaska policymakers. 

In Bethel for a celebration of the upcoming completion of GCI's statewide terrestrial broadband telecommunications network with the placement of the network's final towers this year, Alaska officials said that the effects of climate change are too imminent to ignore here.

State Senator Lyman Hoffman compared denying climate change to burying one's head in the sand. 

State Representative Zach Fansler, just back from a ribbon cutting ceremony in the eroding community of Newtok where villagers remain uncertain how to fund the completion of an evacuation shelter, said that such realities force the issue of climate change to the state's attention. 

“Although the president may not give credence to climate change," said Rep. Fansler, "when it comes to selecting projects, I think we still think about it on our end.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski said that she's been touring the state this week and has not yet read Trump's order removing requirements to take flood risk and climate change into account while planning federally funded infrastructure projects, but she still had a response to it, saying that it's not the President, but Congress that controls the federal purse strings. 

“Just because the president has made a statement about climate change," said Sen. Murkowski, "does not mean that from the appropriations process that we are going to gut or eradicate those programs that are important to not only us here in Alaska as we see the impacts, but to others across the country."

Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
Perhaps the best known broadcasting voice in Alaska, Steve Heimel began his career at a radio station in rural Pennsylvania and worked his way up to two of the nation's Top Ten commercial media markets. He moved to public radio in 1974 for greater creative latitude and moved to Alaska in 1982, working for the statewide Alaska Public Radio Network for 32 years as Managing Editor, morning news announcer and host of the statewide “Talk of Alaska” call-in show.