Frustrated by the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) decision to ignore the public safety of Alaskans and reject a land exchange to facilitate a road linking the community of King Cove to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today introduced legislation that would mandate the exchange and allow the State of Alaska to build the road. ..
(Seattle – Jan. 15, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its final Bristol Bay Assessment describing potential impacts to salmon and ecological resources from proposed large-scale copper and gold mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The report, titled “An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska,” concludes that large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures. Bristol Bay supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, producing nearly 50 percent of the world’s wild sockeye salmon with runs averaging 37.5 million fish each year.
“Over three years, EPA compiled the best, most current science on the Bristol Bay watershed to understand how large-scale mining could impact salmon and water in this unique area of unparalleled natural resources,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10. “Our report concludes that large-scale mining poses risks to salmon and the tribal communities that have depended on them for thousands of years. The assessment is a technical resource for governments, tribes and the public as we consider how to address the challenges of large-scale mining and ecological protection in the Bristol Bay watershed.” …
BY BECKY BOHRER Associated Press January 15, 2014
JUNEAU — A government report indicates a large-scale copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could have devastating effects on the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and adversely affect Alaska Natives whose culture is built around salmon.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released its final assessment of the impact of mining in the Bristol Bay region. Its findings are similar to those of an earlier draft report, concluding that, depending on the size of the mine, up to 94 miles of streams would be destroyed in the mere build-out of the project, including losses of between 5 and 22 miles of streams known to provide salmon spawning and rearing habitat. Up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes also would be lost due to the mine footprint.
The report concludes that “large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses significant near- and long-term risk to salmon, wildlife and Native Alaska cultures,” EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran said in a conference call with reporters.
HOMER — One major unresolved bill from the past legislative session, a sweeping law to eliminate public notice and comment when some permits are issued, ran into fierce opposition in meetings this week in the Kenai Peninsula district of Sen. Peter Micciche, prompting the Soldotna Republican to declare the measure in deep trouble.
House Bill 77, a product of Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration, teetered on the verge of Senate passage in the closing days of the 2013 session in April, but was stashed in the Senate Rules Committee when vote counters projected a 10-10 tie on the floor — a single vote shy. The bill had passed the House in March and is high on the Senate agenda when it reconvenes next month.
But Micciche, a moderate once considered a “yes” vote by opponents of the bill, said constituents have been flooding his office with comments and are even buttonholing him on the street. Nearly everyone is opposed, he said.
“I would be unlikely to support the bill in its current form,” he said Wednesday. The administration should withdraw the bill and re-write it, or Senate President Charlie Huggins should return it to a new round of committee hearings, Micciche said.