U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, both R-Alaska, today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson asking that the 60-day comment period on the Bristol Bay watershed assessment be extended to allow greater public participation during Alaska's traditionally busy summer months
"We make this request after hearing from a large number of our constituents in Alaska, many of whom are concerned that the volume, scope, and importance of the issues addressed by the watershed assessment cannot be adequately reviewed and commented on in such a short amount of time," Murkowski and Young wrote in the letter. "Compounding this challenge is the commencement of fishing season and subsistence activities in our state, which will make it extremely difficult for many Alaskans to comment substantively, if at all, given the near-constant work to be done now and through the coming months."
Murkowski and Young requested the comment period be increased to 120 days, until Nov. 20. The comment period is currently set to end on July 23.
In their letter, Murkowski and Young also reiterated a request from Alaska's Attorney General, Michael C. Geraghty, that the EPA post all reference, bibliography, and source data materials associated with the watershed assessment online.
"Doing so would increase transparency and improve the quality of comments provided," they wrote.