Peltola: Fisheries law and oil project are first priorities

Democratic Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola intends to prioritize the renewal of a federal fisheries law and wants to “move the ball forward on Willow,” a major North Slope oil project, she told attendees of a regional political and business conference last Thursday in Ketchikan.

Peltola’s brief remarks to Southeast Conference were her first as a sitting member of Congress to an Alaska audience, she said.

She was greeted by a standing ovation from the conference attendees.

After being sworn in to Congress on Tuesday, Peltola was named to the House Natural Resources Committee.

“I think the Natural Resources Committee is a perfect fit for Alaska and some of the work that we want to get done,” she said.

One of the foremost topics in the committee is reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the principal law controlling fisheries regulated by the federal government.

Peltola said that before his death this year, Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, had a “handshake agreement” with Rep. Jared Huffman, D-California, about passage of the bill.

“He’s been letting me know what some of those agreements were, and we will be having a markup on Magnuson-Stevens on Wednesday. So I’m looking forward to that,” Peltola said.

She also said she intends to prod the federal government on the Willow oil project. The Bureau of Land Management is working on an environmental impact statement needed for the project to move forward on federally owned North Slope land.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have said they support the project, as does Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.