In a speech delivered on the Senate floor yesterday, Alaska's Senator Lisa Murkowski pointed out the urgency of acting now to address the national problem of tsunami debris that is approaching the shores of the western United States.
Saying that “we need to act now,” the senator recommended to the White House that a task force of related bureaus and agencies such as FEMA, Interior, Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security, that deal with similar issues in other regions be formed to address the issue.
Saying in her speech that the federal government, which owns much of the lands along the coast of Alaska, has a responsibility for clean-up efforts.
“Given the tight budgets that are all around the country, we need to be creative. We need to identify and deploy and share information. We need to leverage local knowledge and our coastal residents’ proximity to – and vested interest in – the cleanup efforts. Our federal agencies have regional coastal staff. They have facilities and resources. Many run programs that are consistent with the objectives of tsunami debris response and mitigation. For those who would suggest ‘if it came up on your shores, it’s your responsibility, there’s no federal role here. It’s up to the state to figure it out.’ I would remind those people that in my state, most of our coastline is owned by the federal government.”
In January, Senator Murkowski held a roundtable on the tsunami debris in Anchorage that included experts sharing their research and observations. Alaskans were able to watch via webcast. That roundtable can be seen here.