After new governor takes oath, climate site vanishes

Source: Kelsey Brugger, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

On the day that Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) was sworn in, the state’s climate change website went out.

Clicking on climatechange.gov.alaska.gov now brings up a notice that the site cannot be reached. Under former Gov. Bill Walker (I), the site highlighted the work on climate change.

Dunleavy administration officials say they are updating many websites to remove Walker’s name, according to KTOO Public Media, which first reported the news.

“That is a normal part of the process when a new administration comes in because all the pages, including the climate change page, are branded with the former governor,” the officials said in an email to E&E News.

They added they are still discussing whether to restore the climate website.

Other state government websites that make some reference to climate change, such as that of Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game, remain active.

Walker prioritized climate change policies and convened an advisory panel, the Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team, to draft policy recommendations.

The climate website was home to public documents, including reports and meeting notes from the leadership team. The team created a list of policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change, including a carbon tax proposal.

Dunleavy called the effort a waste of money.

“Governor Walker’s approach on climate change is symbolic of the ineptitude of his Administration. Enormous resources have been devoted to problems that we really can’t affect, while ignoring the practical things that government really CAN do to better the lives of Alaska’s working families,” Dunleavy’s press team wrote to E&E News in September.

Yesterday, in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, Dunleavy said the causes of climate change are still being debated.

“I know there’s a lot of folks and scientists who believe that man is contributing to this. But the question is, what is Alaska’s role in this? What is Alaska doing?” he told the newspaper.

Echoing an energy industry talking point, Dunleavy said Alaska’s carbon footprint is small compared with that of other states. “I came from Pennsylvania, which was a smokestack state,” he said.

But Dunleavy added that “there’s no doubt” Alaska is being affected by coastal erosion.

“So that’s going to be the focus of this administration and the federal government, is working together and seeing what are we going to do with those communities. Because if the storms keep rolling in, obviously there is going to be more erosion,” he told the Anchorage newspaper.