Alaska Environment’s 2023 Priorities

Alaska Environment's legislative priorities in 2023 include increasing repair access for electronic devices, expanding clean energy, and more.

A photo of the entry to the Alaska capitol building
Carol M. Highsmith | Public Domain

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Clean water to drink and clean air to breathe; healthy oceans, lakes and rivers that are safe for swimming and fishing; flourishing ecosystems that support the wildlife we love and that fill our freezers; clean sources of energy that don’t pollute and never run out — all this should be the heritage we leave to future generations. Defending our environment requires independent research, tough-minded advocacy and spirited grassroots action. Together with supporters from all walks of life, Alaska Environment takes the kind of action that wins results. 

With a divided political landscape, it is more important than ever to find common ground around the environmental values so many Alaskans share. Our program agenda for 2023 lays out our vision for what we hope to accomplish in the coming year to make Alaska greener this year. As bills and policies are introduced, we’ll add specifics on support and opposition. 

Zero Waste

Photo of an electronic recycling collection day at the Seward dump
Dyani Chapman | TPIN
Volunteers collecting electronics for recycling at the Seward dump in Spring 2022

We have to stop trashing our planet. Every day, we extract natural resources to produce goods that are used — often just for a few minutes or days or months — before they’re thrown into landfills, incinerators, or the natural environment. To protect wildlife and their habitat, conserve natural resources, and address climate change, we need to reduce consumption, ensure products are built to last, and shift policies toward a system where all materials are reused, recycled or composted in a continuous cycle.

Right to Repair:

When something breaks, you fix it. That’s just common sense. But manufacturers of everything from phones to appliances to tractors intentionally make things difficult to repair, forcing us to buy new replacements too often. For example, Americans dispose of 416,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled. E-waste is full of toxic materials that contaminate our water, soil, and air. This is a particularly significant issue for communities in rural Alaska who use unlined landfills and practice burning to reduce volume. We are working to tackle planned obsolescence through corporate action, and pass legislation to make sure consumers and small businesses have access to the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products so we can keep things in use longer and reduce waste.

Clean Energy

Wind turbines at sunset
Werner Slocum, National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Public Domain

100% Renewable:

For decades, we have had the power to harness clean, abundant energy from the sun and the wind. In 2023, it can be done more efficiently and cheaply than ever before. Yet we’re still producing, consuming and wasting energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment and our health. Ten states have codified commitments to 100% clean or renewable energy and one in three Americans lives in a community committed to 100%. These commitments drive clean energy adoption so we can have healthier communities right now, and a livable future for generations to come. The State of Alaska and the communities within Alaska need to set aggressive requirements and goals to transition our energy systems towards clean and renewable sources of energy. A renewable energy portfolio standard for the railbelt is a good first step. Additionally, both the state and individual communities need to aggressively pursue federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act to build renewable energy infrastructure. 

Clean energy homes:

Not only are electric technologies like heat pumps and induction stoves more efficient, they can also be powered by renewable energy like solar and wind rather than fossil fuels. Federal tax credits and rebates passed under the Inflation Reduction Act makes it easier and more affordable than ever to electrify our buildings. We need as many Alaska families and businesses as possible to take advantage of those credits to electrify their homes. Information and assistance needs to be widely available, so Alaska Environment is holding a series of educational webinars and events in the coming year to ensure Alaskans get the information they need.  

The Cleanest Energy- Efficiency & Conservation:

Improving energy efficiency saves energy, lowers bills, makes homes and workplaces more comfortable and reduces pollution. In a state like Alaska where many communities experience extreme temperatures, appropriate weatherization is especially valuable. For all these reasons, reducing energy waste should be the first fuel we turn to. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act include funding and tax credits to make our homes and buildings more efficient. Leaders in Alaska need to ensure individuals have access to the information they need to take advantage of the federal resources, and ensure that funds available for communities and government agencies are maximized. 

Destination Zero Carbon:

We can’t mitigate global warming or reduce air pollution without moving away from a transportation system that relies on congested roads and polluting cars. We need more options like expanded and improved rail, ferry and bus systems, more EV charging infrastructure, and better walking and biking paths. AKDOT should set a goal for freight and transportation to be free of greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. Communities and regions should take advantage of federal funds to move our transportation infrastructure toward a sustainable and non-polluting system.  The ferry system should be fully funded and include sufficient stops and frequency to mitigate the need for new roads and limit air travel. 

Conservation

Photo of people walking on rocky beach near Seward with snowy mountains in background
Dyani Chapman | TPIN

More Wildlife and Intact Ecosystems:

From the Bering Sea to the caribou roaming north of the Brooks Range to the temperate rainforests of Southeast and whales gracing our coasts, our state is home to one of the largest arrays of priceless landscapes, waterways, and wildlife. And yet, pollution and development threaten this abundance. New projects must be thoughtfully and fully considered to ensure they maintain cleanliness of our water, connectivity of habitat for wildlife, and the health of our ecosystems. Along with a variety of other advocacy groups, we’ve established principles for good infrastructure investments and will work to ensure that as we build, we protect and care for the land, water, and wildlife we love and rely on. We must prevent pollution at the source and keep our healthy ecosystems thriving. 

Improve Resiliency of Marine Ecosystems:

Many of Alaska’s offshore ecosystems are struggling with collapsing populations of salmon, crab, and herring. Fishery management needs to be nimble and quickly responsive to changes in ocean temperature, acidity, and other impacts of climate change. Bycatch, especially from trawl fleets in sensitive systems, needs to be curtailed sufficiently for struggling populations to rebound. Additionally, we must protect marine ecosystems from other human activities that can disrupt systems including drilling offshore and mining in headwaters. 

No Toxics on Tap:

Everyone deserves clean water to drink. But many Alaskans are drinking water tainted by toxic chemicals called PFAS, which are linked to cancer and other severe illnesses. We’re supporting legislation and corporate action to stop the use of PFAS in consumer products, clean up contamination in our water and communities, and to hold industry accountable for damage they have caused.

Let us fix our stuff
cell-phone-chip-repair-parilov-via-adobe-stock

Right to repair

Let us fix our stuff

We should give every consumer and every small business access to the parts, tools, and service information they need to repair products by passing Right to Repair reforms.

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Dyani Chapman

State Director, Alaska Environment Action

Dyani is the state director of Alaska Environment and runs campaigns to promote clean air and water, open spaces, and a livable climate in Alaska. She lives in Anchorage and loves to hike, ski and hang out with her family.

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