Hurdle for Alaska village relocation emerges

    Newtok, Alaska (KINY) The head of the agency assigned to coordinate the relocation of Alaskan villages impacted by climate change is leaving.

    Alaska's Energy Desk reported that Joel Neimeyer steps down Friday as federal co-chair of the Denali Commission and no replacement has been named.

    It is a critical time for the agency as Congress budgeted $30 million to work with villages that face loss of permafrost, flooding and erosion problems.

    The commission was established by Congress in 1998 to fund economic development and infrastructure in rural Alaska.   In 2015 President Barack Obama added the responsibility of assisting Alaska communities threatened by climate change like Newtok, Shishmaref and Kivalina.

    Neimeyer worked to get the budget for the agency doubled.  Most of that money will go to relocate Newtok the village in western Alaska deemed most at risk.

    The Trump Administration has twice proposed eliminating the Denali Commission entirely. Neimeyer, who was appointed under Obama, is a Democrat. He said the agency needs a Republican to make the case for it within a Republican administration.

     

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