Jason Brune. Northern Gas Pipelines file photo by Dave Harbour

Dear Readers:

Today, you’ll see my testimony (below) in support of a great, accomplished professional to be confirmed as Alaska’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

But over half our readers are outside Alaska in the Lower 48 and Canada.  Why should they care?  Because this is an example of why remaining silent loses freedom.

Here we have a highly qualified person appointed to his cabinet by Governor Michael Dunleavy.  Commissioner Brune now needs to be confirmed by members of the Alaska House of Representatives and the Senate.  Today the jurisdictional House Resources Committee will take testimony and make a recommendation to members of the House.

Environmental activists seem to be bombarding the Legislature with political messages designed to erode the reputation of this judicious, fair minded, reasonable professional.  All citizens desiring a knowledgeable, honest regulator in the important post should stand up for Commissioner Brune.

Sitting back and not weighing in could result in 1) a less qualified, politically correct person being appointed; 2) intimidation of future, potential appointed candidates for government positions; and 3) reducing the confirmation process to campaign for political power rather than a deliberate, honest process.

This case history, accordingly, is instructive to all defenders of due process throughout Alaska, the U.S. and Canada.  In that spirit, we ask our readers to please send emails to members of this committee, below, urging confirmation of Brune’s appointment, if you believe that confirmation to be justified.  Whatever be your personal opinion, as readers  desiring honesty in governmental action, we hope you will send an email to legislators expressing your own personal opinion, brief as that may be.

Watch the hearing at 1:20 Alaska time today (HERE)  and continue exercising your right and responsibility to vote and participate in such events.  Wherever you live, don’t leave public policy to the whims of special interests, community organizers and opponents of your way of life.  -dh

Testimony for The Alaska House of Representatives Resource Committee

on March 15, 2019

by

Dave Harbour, Regulatory Commission of Alaska (Ret.)

Dear Chairwoman Tarr and Members of the House Resources Committee:

It is good to be with you again and this allows me to express my appreciation to you for your courtesy during the audio challenges we shared when I recently offered you testimony on SJR 7.

Today, we meet as you evaluate the confirmation qualifications of DEC Commissioner Jason Brune whom Governor Mike Dunleavy has appointed to the DEC Commissioner position.

As a former state regulator and personal and business reference I endorse his confirmation.  Having known Jason a great part of his adult life, I’ve always been inspired by his generosity, his integrity, his cheerful and optimistic attitude and his professional competence.  Commissioner Brune is one of the great sons of Alaska in whom you can be proud.

More substantively, I offer you this compelling logic to reinforce your decision to confirm his appointment:

Commissioner Brune’s extensive biological and natural resource management background perfectly qualifies him as Alaska’s environmental custodian from both 1. Constitutional and 2. Statutory perspectives.

  1. Constitutional: The powerful democrats and republicans considering Alaska’s Constitution and petition to become the 49th state voted admittance in 1958, followed by President Eisenhower’s July 7 signature on the Statehood Bill authorizing admittance to the Union on January 3, 1959.  The biggest argument against statehood was fear Alaskans had insufficient economic strength to manage the large, far North territory.  The biggest and prevailing argument supporting statehood was our plebiscite-approved constitution that relied upon natural resource wealth production in the public interest, using sustained yield and other reasonable management guidelines.  It is an unassailable fact that Alaska would not have been granted statehood without the bi partisan agreement among the President, Congress, Alaskan voters and Alaskan leaders in the state Constitution’s reasonable resource development linchpin.  In a bi partisan spirit, we recently lamented the passing of republican Constitutional Convention member Jack Coghill and continue to celebrate the life of Convention member Vic Fischer, a respected democrat.
  • Article 8, Sec. 1.  …policy of the State to encourage the … development of its resources … maximum use consistent with the public interest.
  • Article 8, Sec. 2.  The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.
  • Article 8.  Other sections provide for natural resource development leases and “reasonable” conditions to protect other resources consistent with the public interest.

I believe a number of the anti-confirmation communications directed at our Legislature have come from organized special interest sources dependent for fundraising and crisis generation on attacking Alaska’s constitutional dependence on reasonable resource development (See note below).  Reasonable development is achieved by our Legislature’s statutory (and Administration’s regulatory) constitutional responsibilities to process natural resource lease and permit applications in a reasonable way—not to prejudge them or deny applicants due process.  Commissioner Brune’s background and integrity prepare him better than any other Alaskan than I know to receive your confirmation blessing for the awesome, DEC management responsibility.   Article 3, Sec. 26 outlines qualifications for Brune’s appointment and confirmation.  He meets those qualifications.  He would never be “removed” from office for “causes” raised by the many unjustified attacks on his integrity.  Accordingly, he should not be denied confirmation for such “causes” and orchestrated attacks.  His natural resource work in the past — along with his rigid moral compass — qualifies him all the more for the DEC position, not less.

  1. Statutory.  The Department of Natural Resources provides permitting and leasing opportunities consistent with the Constitution (http://dnr.alaska.gov/homepage/onlineservices.htm ).  The Department of Environmental Conservation’s contributions to permitting and leasing “due process”, balances Alaska’s Constitutional  reliance on natural resource development by,  “Conserving, improving, and protecting Alaska’s natural resources and environment to enhance the health, safety, economic, and social well-being of Alaskans.”   (https://dec.alaska.gov/).  I am confident — as I believe you can be — that Commissioner Brune will faithfully provide the balance in natural resource policy to secure the maximum public interest result for our fellow citizens.

Conclusion

Senator Stevens along with democrat and republican governors over the years have cautioned against the loud voices of anti-resource development that would defy “reasonable resource development” as the bi partisan assembly of state and national leaders in 1958 envisioned.

When writing a natural resource related speech for former Governor Egan 35 years ago, he instructed me to include reference to “predatory” politicians in Washington.

Senator Stevens was heartbroken many times over the years by refusal of the Congress to support the 1002 area commitments democrat senators Jackson and Tsongas had made to him in 1980.   In a December 21, 2005 U.S. Senate floor speech he gave one of his final indictments of uninformed, opponents of Alaska’s natural resource based Constitution and the subsequent ANILCA legislation:

We know this Arctic. You don’t know the Arctic at all. They will tell you, as I will tell you, that it is 2,000 acres of Arctic. Is that worth this fight? Did I bring this fight on? It was the minority in the House that refused to vote for the rule that we passed on the reconciliation bill. This provision was in the reconciliation bill. The majority voted for it. Every other time it has been brought up, except once, the minority has filibustered keeping the commitment made to me by two Democratic Senators in 1980, Senator Jackson and Senator Tsongas. They wrote the amendment; I didn’t. They wrote the amendment that kept this area open for oil and gas leases.

Chairwoman Tarr, I close by encouraging the Legislature to be more mindful of Commissioner Brune’s lifelong love for, work in and allegiance to Alaska and her Constitution than to baseless predatory attacks on a proven Alaskan leader who is wedded to Alaska’s constitutional principles of reasonable and balanced resource development.

Finally, I believe those of us who have valued the long, dedicated service of the former DEC Commissioner Hartig in different administrations will likewise appreciate the dedicated, continuing tenure of Commissioner Brune.

Respectfully,

Dave

Dave Harbour

(Harbour is a 48 year Alaska resident; a Commissioner Emeritus, NARUC;  Chairman Emeritus, Alaska Oil & Gas Congress; former President, American Bald Eagle Foundation and the Alaska Press Club and Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation-Alaska.  He is a former Television Commissioner of the Anchorage Olympic Organizing Committee; a former MOA Heritage Land Bank Commissioner and Anchorage Bicentennial Commissioner.)