AkPIRG supports Alaska's Regulatory Commission proposed rule.

In their proposed legislation, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s inclusion of other stakeholders besides the utilities co-ops themselves—notably, consumer and renewable energy advocates, member-owner representatives, and independent power producers—will make the Railbelt electric utility landscape more efficient, diverse, resilient and responsive.

Read AkPIRG’s full comment here —>

AkPIRG writes in support of Anchorage's Climate Action Plan.

Consumer issues are inextricably linked to climate issues. Creating an ambitious, collaborative plan for the Municipality is necessary in ensuring consumer quality of life, access to better products, and long-term benefits. The CAP accounts for these priorities through (to name a few): language access, urban forests and livable cities, vehicle updates, renewable energy credits, and community health.

Read more

A toxic-free Anchorage

Read a letter from AkPIRG’s Board member and retired Professor of Chemistry, John Kennish, on the dangers of flame retardant chemicals. He wrote to the Anchorage Assembly in preparation for their vote on February 12. AkPIRG, in coordination with Alaska Community Actions on Toxics (ACAT), is working to educate the public on the resolution for Toxic-free Children in Anchorage.

AkPIRG public comment for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska

From October 24, 2018’s RCA meeting.

AkPIRG is primarily concerned with the group of organizations and interests who will participate in the Railbelt Reliability Council (RRC), including future regional integrated resource planning efforts. AkPIRG is concerned that interests other than those of utilities may be sidelined.

Read the full text below.

Source: http://rca.alaska.gov/RCAWeb/ViewFile.aspx...

Sen. Murkowski should oppose Kavanaugh on consumer, other grounds

If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he will fight for Big Cable and Big Telecom interests without regard for consumers.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has in the past voted to uphold many consumer, Alaska Native and health care rights for Alaskans. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court poses a threat to all three.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group, or AKPIRG, is particularly concerned about the negative impacts that repealing net neutrality, which prohibits internet providers from charging users differently, would have on Alaskan small businesses and rural communities should Kavanaugh be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Murkowski has consistently protected health care and Alaska Native rights, both of which are threatened by net neutrality’s repeal by the Trump Administration. The February 2018 repeal by the Federal Communications Commission currently is being challenged by multiple states.

In May 2018, Murkowski joined two Republicans using the Congressional Review Act to oppose the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. At the time, she stated that “In Alaska, at stake are rural health clinics and schools that rely on life-saving tele-medicine services and access to educational resources … tele-health and tele-education in Alaska are not just important, it’s critical.” Murkowski understands how important net neutrality is to rural Alaskans, Alaska’s small businesses and consumers. To date, the House of Representatives has not voted on the repeal of net neutrality.

Kavanaugh has a record of going beyond the judicial mainstream to oppose net neutrality, however. He has even described the concept as unlawful. On this issue, as with many others, Kavanaugh sides with corporate special interests rather than the public.

When it comes to net neutrality, the core argument centers on how to classify the broadband companies that provide internet access. By providing access, Kavanaugh believes, those companies are selling specific goods to consumers and so should be able to set their own market prices — in other words, raising prices for consumers in order to get full access to the internet. When it comes to this issue, Kavanaugh’s in the position of a small minority of judges as well as the public. Even former conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed, arguing that broadband companies are akin to utilities and so cannot be regulated by the companies in question.

According to the FCC, the federal body that regulates digital communications, as of 2017 over 40 percent of census areas only offer one broadband option, and there are only two options in 70 percent of census areas. Clearly, many companies are not competing with each other. It is therefore the consumers — not the carriers — that need protection. If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he will fight for Big Cable and Big Telecom interests without regard for consumers — particularly rural consumers, of which there are many in Alaska.

Kavanaugh’s opposition to net neutrality would raise costs, limit tele-health options and harm Alaskan small businesses that depend on affordable, non-discriminatory internet access. Prices also would rise for individual consumers, hitting rural Alaskans particularly hard.

In May, Murkowski defended net neutrality and the interests of her fellow Alaskans. Supporting Kavanaugh’s fast-tracked confirmation now would undermine many of the issues and values she has long championed, including net neutrality. AKPIRG urges Sen. Murkowski to continue fighting for Alaskans — and our hard-won rights as consumers and citizens — by voting against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

• Veri di Suvero, of Anchorage, is executive director of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit, non-partisan, citizen-oriented statewide organization focused on researching, educating and advocating on behalf of the public interest. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

Source: https://www.juneauempire.com/opinion/opini...

Sen. Sullivan should stand up to robocallers

Jill Yordy, July 27

To the editor: With more than 2 million robocalls made to the 907 area code last month alone, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has never been more important for Alaskans. But the Act, the most significant consumer protection from unwanted robocalls, is being threatened.

A recent court ruling called parts of the Act into question, ordering the Federal Communications Commission to revisit the rules. Turning to public comment for input, the FCC opened the door to the nation’s largest banks, retailers, debt collectors, student loan servicers and their Washington, D.C., lobbyists, pushing the FCC to erode vital consumer protections from robocalls.

Capital One, USAA, AT&T and Wells Fargo were among the top 10 sources of robocalls to the 907 area code in June.

The robocallers want the FCC to eviscerate the prohibition against autodialed calls and texts to cellphones without the consumer’s consent and strip consumers of our right to tell the robocallers to stop calling. If the FCC gives in to lobbyists’ demands, the volume of robocalls will soar, and we will be defenseless against them.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, majority member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees the FCC, is well-positioned to go to bat for us. Sen. Sullivan must demand that the FCC put Alaskans’ rights to privacy above the interests of robocallers and their D.C. lobbyists.