An initiative that would add another roadblock to the Pebble Mine project will appear on the ballot this fall, now that a legal challenge against it has failed.
The Alaska Supreme Court issued an expedited order on Monday saying that the Bristol Bay Forever initiative was constitutional. The order comes less than two weeks after the justices heard the case. The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of mining groups, who believe the initiative is invalid because it only regulates mining in one part of the state. The Alaska Constitution does not allow statewide initiatives to deal with local matters.
But initiative sponsors and the Alaska Division of Elections defended the ballot proposition, which would require the Legislature to approve large-scale mining operations in the Bristol Bay region. They argued that the health of that watershed and its salmon fishery is an issue of statewide importance.
The Supreme Court still has to issue a formal opinion explaining their judgment, but the two-page order allows the Division of Elections to go ahead with preparing the November 4 ballot.
- Juneau Finance Director Bob Bartholomew projected Gov. Bill Walker’s veto of about half of dividend funds will cost the city.
- Only three votes now separate two northern Alaska House candidates. Dean Westlake of Kotzebue has 780 votes, ahead of 777 votes for incumbent Rep. Ben Nageak, who’s from Barrow.
- Bus passes, child-care assistance, work clothing and other resources to get low-income tribal members into jobs are being cut in seven Southeast Communities..
- The U.S. Northern Command and Coast Guard have launched a major field-training exercise off Alaska’s northwest coast. Arctic Chinook is intended to demonstrate how local, state and federal agencies would respond to a simulated cruise ship accident. Coincidentally, a big luxury cruise ship will sail through the area while the exercise is under way. And to further complicate things, bad weather has just set in.