Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization said this month’s meetings with the U.S. State Department and Environmental Protection Agency were productive.
Among other things, the agencies could help expand water-monitoring efforts along transboundary rivers.
President Richard Peterson said representatives heard about potential and existing pollution from British Columbia mines near rivers that flow into Alaska.
“I think we gave them some of our concerns and questions and whatnot,” he said. “That gives them a chance to go back and now have that next conversation that’s more action-based and promissory in nature.”
The federal officials met with tribal government and Native corporation leaders from Juneau, Ketchikan, Saxman, Douglas and Kasaan on Aug. 9-Aug. 11.
They talked about water-quality monitoring along fish-and-wildlife-rich transboundary rivers, Peterson said. Federal officials were interested in supporting the effort.
“And we were able to use that as an opportunity to push for more funding for activities regionwide, so that other communities can do that baseline analysis that needs to take place,” he said.
State Department and EPA public-affairs staff offered no comment on the meetings or any commitments made.
Peterson said they agreed to hold further meetings, which will happen this fall in Washington, D.C.
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and other state officials presented their concerns at the meetings.
They brought up a U.S. Canada boundary-waters treaty that includes a commission tasked with resolving such conflicts,” he said.
“We emphasized that if, when, how, in what manner, that the IJC, the International Joint Commission, might be engaged that we would No. 1, welcome it and No. 2, be part of it to the degree that that was appropriate,” he said.
Mallott heads up a state task force on transboundary mine concerns.
He and his team also brought up the need for more federal support.
“To put it mildly, Alaska is resource-constrained, at least fiscal resource-constrained, right now,” Mallott said. “These collaborations and network-building is very important.”
Alaska and British Columbia officials have been discussing the state’s concerns for more than a year.
A statement of cooperation detailing ways Alaska can provide more input into mine decisions is nearing a final draft.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
Never miss the important parts with insightful (and entertaining) news from The Signal, the best weekly Alaska news email.
- Under Alaska state law, at least 30 days’ notice is needed to hold a non-emergency special session during the interim. That would push any special session now up against the holidays.
- The Tazlina was scheduled to have new side doors installed this winter. Instead, the state ferry will provide service between Juneau and the communities of Haines, Skagway, Hoonah and Gustavus.
- Bruce Tangeman, who ran the state's Department of Revenue, also wrote that any potential new taxes would support what he called an unsustainable budget, as well as permanent fund dividends.
- The NTSB update is a detailed, seven-page statement of facts about the flight and the investigation, with sections on the runway, the flight recorders, the plane and its engines. It does not assign a cause to the crash. That's expected later.