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Obama Wants Extra Funding to Save Alaska from Climate Change

President Obama added new funding in his FY 2017 budget to try to save Alaska from the effects of climate change.

That includes $150 million for planning and design to fast-track “a new polar-class icebreaker” to begin production by 2020. “The new, heavy icebreaker will assure year-round accessibility to the Arctic region for Coast Guard missions including protection of Alaska’s maritime environment and resources,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the initiatives this morning.

Under the plan, Alaska would get about $400 million of a $2 billion Coastal Climate Resilience program — including “relocation expenses for Alaska Native villages threatened by rising seas, coastal erosion, and storm surges.”

“This program would be paid for by redirecting roughly half of the savings achieved by repealing unnecessary and costly offshore oil and gas revenue sharing payments that are set to be paid to a handful of states under current law,” the White House said.

An additional $5 million would be added to the previous year’s budget for the federal Denali Commission “to coordinate Federal, State, and Tribal assistance to communities to develop and implement solutions to address the impacts of climate change.”

There are also funds allocated for the National Park Service to “acquire six parcels in Denali National Park to protect the historic Denali Park Road, where the majority of tourists experience the park by viewing the mountains and wildlife.”

The budget proposal also seeks $4.7 million “to provide safe public access to the historic Kennecott Mine in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, making this a promising tourist destination.”

Alaska’s senior senator last week reacted angrily to Obama’s budget proposal to put a $10 per barrel tax on oil.

“After years of imposing new restrictions on access in federal areas in Alaska and throughout the country, the president is now apparently proposing yet another way to damage our nation’s oil production,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. “This is disappointing, but not surprising. Especially at a time of low prices, the president should be looking at ways to make our energy sector more competitive, not pushing new policies that will cost jobs and raise prices.”

“Fortunately, with Republicans in charge of Congress, Alaskans need not worry about this becoming law,” she added.