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Developments in Alaska Environmental Law

Jonathan K. Tillinghast, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)

In 1977, the Alaska Legislature enacted the Environmental Procedures Coordination Act1 in an attempt to abbreviate the not atypical morass posed by Alaska's panoply of permits and licenses. Inspired by similar legislation in Washington state,2 the Alaska law, through the use of a master application,3 will enable practitioners to fight their clients' regulatory battles in an omnibus and well-defined forum — obviating the need to separately pursue any of the some 34 permits covered by the act which are applicable to the project.4

The task of forging into a single adjudicatory mold the disparate habits of Alaska's bureaucracies is a difficult one, and its accomplishment has been delayed by the absence of a fiscal year 1978 appropriation to implement the statute. The spirit of the enactment has, however, begun to surface in individual regulatory programs in the state. This paper will focus on three recent developments, and one pending action, in the field of Alaska environmental law where this theme of regulatory realism has played an important role. Topics to be discussed include (1) the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's (“ADEC”) water pollution control authority; (2) ADEC enforcement policies; (3) the pending revamping of state water quality standards; and (4) the Alaska Coastal Management Act. It would be overstatement to characterize these developments