U.S. Navy Responds to Murkowski’s Northern Edge Concerns

Navy Tells Senator “It is Critical to Engage Early and Often with Potentially Affected Stakeholders”

In response to a letter that U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wrote to Secretary of the Navy last month, urging the Navy to connect and interact with concerned Alaskan communities about the timing, location, and potential impacts of the Navy’s involvement in the Northern Edge 2017 (NE17) joint military exercise, Navy officials told Senator Murkowski in a letter (attached) they will work with local stakeholders to ensure the public is fully aware of the NE17 and the measures that will be put in place to minimize environmental impacts.

Murkowski’s letter to the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus can be found by clicking here.

“I readily admit we could have done a much better job reaching out to potentially affected stakeholders leading up to NE15. The Navy shares your position that it is critical for us to engage early and often with potentially affected stakeholders leading up to NE17,” said Dennis V. McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Energy, Installations, & Environment. “The Navy values the unique training opportunity and environment that exists in Alaska and we are committed to being open with the public about our activities and environmental impacts.”

In an effort to clearly convey the scope of the exercise, address concerns, and dispel misinformation, the Navy explained their outreach plan leading up to NE17:


  • Meeting with local governments in Kodiak, Homer, Cordova and Seward;
  • Holding discussions with stakeholders at events such as the Alaska Federation of Natives, COMFISH, Alaska Maritime Symposium, and the Alaska Forum on the Environment;
  • Planning to attend local, regional, and state-wide events to initiate a two-way dialogue with citizens in coastal communities, fishing interests, the scientific and environmental community, and local, state and Federal officials.

“I am pleased to hear the Navy’s plans to engage with Alaskan communities, avoiding a repeat of the miscommunication leading up to NE15. I truly believe communication is key and if the Navy follows through with their proposed outreach efforts and has meaningful conversations with Alaskans, I am confident that the concerns posed by so many can be addressed,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I will be following the Navy’s efforts closely and hold them accountable to their promises, so that Alaskans can be rest assured that fishery conflicts will be avoided and marine resources will be protected during the upcoming military exercise.” 

Background: In 2015, Senator Murkowski introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would require the military to engage with communities about planned training exercises at least six months in advance.

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