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Sean Parnell

Parnell, Berkowitz talk about Kodiak issues

Sean Parnell 42%

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The Kodiak Daily Mirror took advantage of a campaign visit from Gov. Sean Parnell Tuesday to ask Alaska gubernatorial candidates about the Pebble Mine, tourism and other issues of local interest.

The race between the Republican incumbent and Democrat Ethan Berkowitz has been less publicized this election cycle than the three-way mudslinging contest for the U.S. Senate seat.

But that does not mean there are not serious differences between the two candidates.

On the subject of the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine on the Alaska peninsula the candidates have not moved from the stances they took at the Kodiak Crab Fest fishery debate in May.

Parnell stands behind the current system of state and federal permits developers of the mine will have to apply for in the coming years. He does not believe it is appropriate for the state’s chief executive to lean for or against the mine.

“It’s entirely appropriate for a member of the public to have a position on whether a mine should be permitted or not ” he said.

“But I think if you have a governor who says yes a mine should go or no a mine shouldn’t before the permitting process has a chance to play out — before the science can be looked at and the public has a chance to have their say — you end up with corruption in the system because you end up with a system where the governor influences the permitting process for his or her friends.”

Berkowitz opposes the development. He does not believe it can be developed safely without the risk of polluting the salmon-rich rivers that flow into Bristol Bay.

“When Sean Parnell hides behind the process, he doesn’t recognize that process is broken,” he said. “There are a lot of great mining prospects in Alaska, but I’ve spent a couple of seasons commercial fishing and I think Pebble represents too great a risk.”

The candidates are also 180 degrees from each other on the subject of Alaska’s cruise ship head tax. This past spring, legislation supported by Parnell reduced the $46 tax paid by cruise ship passengers who visit Alaska by about $10.

Berkowitz accused Parnell of supporting the lower head tax as a favor to the cruise ship industry. He said Parnell could have better helped Alaska’s tourism industry by reducing costs for portside businesses.

“To cut the fees for tourists, but not reduce them of Alaskan businesses in a sense is to increase the cost for Alaskan b. siness, which I think is a bizarre thing to do.”






October 20th, 2010

Read more: www.kodiakdailymirr or.com


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