Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has called for an urgent focus on assistance for Alaskan communities facing coastal erosion.
Earlier this week, during an Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing examining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget request for Fiscal Year 2019, Senator Murkowski cited threats to the northern community of Utqiaġvik, facing serious winter storms, receding sea ice, and greater coastal erosion.
“You’ve got a utility corridor that is in danger of washing away due to the beach erosion. We also have an old land fill that’s about 100 feet from the water. This land fill is maxed out but you also have some military waste out there from cleanup projects that have gone on. Tens of thousands of drums of waste. A slow moving disaster is the way that I have described the erosion threat that we are seeing,” Senator Murkowski said.
“So here you have the most significant community in the North Slope with the potential to lose their utilities, but also from an environmental perspective, a real threat, so the question that they have asked me to ask you is, how quickly are we moving in providing any level of assistance — not only to protect the utility corridor but to deal with the potential for this environmental issue?”
Senator Murkowski also stressed the urgency for the Army Corps and the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works to provide assistance not only to protect the utility corridor and address the potential environmental issues, but called for a broader discussion to ensure there is a plan going forward.