Politics & Government

Alaska environmentalists seek to help set Obama administration's agenda

Arctic oil and gas exploration, federal subsistence protection and funding for rural development are among the Alaska concerns that could see sudden policy shifts in the new Obama administration.

The public transition leading to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration next month has focused so far on national security and economic issues. But below the surface, busy lobbying is under way over future environmental agendas and political jobs affecting Alaska. Key appointments are expected this week.

After eight years in exile during near-total Republican control of Alaska policies, local environmentalists were in Washington, D.C., last week hoping to help set the new Democratic administration's agenda.

Alaska Native leaders will join tribal leaders from around the country Tuesday in Washington. Among the top transition officials they'll be seeing: a Native law expert who once worked in Anchorage and represented subsistence advocate Katie John of Mentasta Lake.

One result of the transition could be less federal attention to priorities pushed by the state government, which is sometimes at odds with those environmental and Native groups. The change of focus could be even more pronounced than usual in a presidential election year, given the Democrats' stronger grip on Congress and the absence of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens' intimidating presence.

Read the complete story at adn.com