|Attorney General John Burns|
Enter John J. Burns, stage right, who was appointed on November 30th, 2010. The Anchorage Daily News (Feb. 5), the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Feb. 5) and the Juneau Empire (Feb. 4) have published stories about him. And the common theme to all three stories is that Burns thinks the Federal government's role in Alaska is excessively intrusive, invasive, and oppressive. Burns says overreach and overregulation by the Federal government feed into the social and economic ills plaguing the state, questions where the state's job rate would stand without resource development, and adds that if families aren't supported by jobs, or can't adequately support themselves, that stokes friction. He also believes the Feds impinge upon Alaska's sovereignty; some of the major irritants include the arbitrary application of the Endangered Species Act and its new designations of Wild Lands, the Environmental Protection Agency’s unprecedented exercise of authority, and moratoriums on offshore Arctic drilling for oil and natural gas. Both of Alaska's U.S. senators and Gov. Sean Parnell condemned the remand of air permits issued by the EPA for an Arctic drilling plan, and an official for Shell Alaska said the EPA action was the final factor in a decision to delay plans for drilling this year.
From the Juneau Empire:
“From our perspective, the ability of our state to become a state, to become an independent entity is critically dependent on its ability to develop its resources,” Burns said, quoting Parnell. Burns urges all Alaskans to read the Statehood Act as well. “The frustration is that, I strongly believe that anybody that lives in the state of Alaska, who has lived here for a long period of time, is an environmentalist. You cannot live in this great state and participate in all that we have and not want to see it continue. But at the same time we recognize that you can have different and responsible development coexisting with that ability to participate. The frustration that I see is that the rest of the world does not believe that we are competent enough to responsibly develop our resources. I don’t think that they believe we care about this wonderful state. To me that belies comprehension. Every Alaskan I have talked to, who has been here for any length of time, is here because it is such an incredible state. The thought that we would do something to ruin it is beyond comprehension to me.”
Burns does not favor litigation as a first choice, but is willing to use it if necessary. If he employs it, he will use it aggressively and with a firm objective in mind. No scavenger hunts.
The Empire also reports in detail about Burns' background, and he is the quintessential Alaskan, having lived and traveled throughout nearly all the state except for the Southeast. This means he understands the needs and challenges of life in Bush Alaska, which sometimes gets lost because of the dominance of Railbelt Alaska. But like so many Alaskans, Burns came here from somewhere else, having migrated from Raleigh, NC with his parents in 1960. One of the factors persuading him to become formally educated and to sink roots in this state was the availability of the student loan forgiveness program. This program may be one of the few entitlement programs that actually promotes empowerment. Burns is married and has two daughters.
But while it's gratifying that we have an attorney general who speaks out against Federal paternalism and who wants us to take charge of our destiny, we did not send that message in November 2010. We chose to send Lisa Murkowski back to Washington rather than hand the baton over to Joe Miller. Of course, much of that was attributable to Miller's miscues on the campaign trail, but, as it is written, "if the trumpet giveth an uncertain sound, who will join the battle". If we're serious about taking back ownership of our state, we must send that message more consistently. Correlation is the key.