Alaska Brief Newsletter — April 2017
We have good reason to celebrate this month.
The company that wanted to put a coal strip mine through 14 miles of salmon streams in the Chuitna River watershed announced that it has stopped pursuing a permit. This is fantastic news! It means the area’s streams and salmon are protected.
Trustees has worked with clients, partners and supporters to protect the Chuitna since the 1980s. The coal company’s decision to walk away from the project proves that persistence, resilience and collaboration can really pay off.
Pebble gets one-year permit, but with strings attached
We also learned this month that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued a new one-year exploration permit for the proposed Pebble Mine. But this time–and for the first time–it comes with strings attached that benefit the Bristol Bay watershed and its communities. For decades, the Pebble permits were essentially rubber-stamped. The new permit requires an unprecedented $2 million bond, compliance with a work plan, and other stipulations.
It took many, many years of work to make DNR accountable to the public at Pebble. Trustees for Alaska defended the public’s right to have a say in permits for Pebble in 2009 by challenging DNR’s failure to give public notice and allow for comment by concerned citizens. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in our favor in 2015, agreeing that Alaskans do in fact have a right to know about, and have a say in, how their resources are used.
Protecting the public’s right to have a voice–the right to a public process–later led to an outpouring of public comments about the Pebble permit. Nearly 2,000 comments were submitted, over 1,000 from Alaskans.
Those public comments in turn influenced DNR’s latest permit decision, which sets up more protection for the wildlife and watershed of Bristol Bay, and some financial assurance that Pebble will clean up its messes.
Our voices matter in protecting our communities
As we watch the dismantling of federal rules protecting our health and that of our land, water and air, it’s heartening to know that local voices can protect our shared resources and values.
April’s good news comes as Alaska’s days get longer and warmer, promising new growth. Join us in celebrating this Saturday, April 22, Earth Day, by joining a March for Science near you or going to Earth Day events.
At the Earth Day event at the Anchorage Museum, I’ll talk about the interplay of science and the law at 12:20 p.m. outside. There will be activities and many great speakers at the event from 111 a.m. to 3 p.m.
I hope to see you there!
PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued a new one-year permit for Pebble, but it comes with some strings attached.
The company that sought a permit to mine through 14 miles of salmon streams in the Chuitna River watershed just walked away.
Guest blogger Peter Van Tuyn goes retro “Wally Hickel” in post about predator control in Alaska.
Running into a bear can turn into the story of a lifetime, but running into a bear 30 times over… well, that’s a story former Trustees board member Steve Bickerstaff gets to tell.