A few states are in the process of challenging a federal rule that makes it difficult to build new roads through national lands, called the Roadless Rule.
But on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., introduced legislation which could eliminate the possibility of an Alaska-specific exemption to the Roadless Rule.
Under the Roadless Area Conservation Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wouldn’t have the authority to grant that exemption.
Right now, the agency is on track to release a draft environmental impact statement this summer, including various options for road-building in the Tongass. An official decision is expected by 2020.
It’s unclear how the new legislation will interfere with those plans. It still has to pass both the House and the Senate, where Murkowski chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
- Gov. Mike Dunleavy says the Alaska Federation of Natives hasn’t offered a valid solution to the fiscal crisis. He wants to know AFN’s plans to fight sexual assaults and educational woes in Native communities.
- The Yukon’s Minto Mine is expected to resume ore production in the near future. That means that Skagway’s ore terminal may begin loading ships with ore after months of inactivity. However, this may complicate the other needs of Skagway’s port.
- Opponents of the Pebble Mine are doing all they can to get Sen. Lisa Murkowski on their side. But Murkowski is not ready to make a declaration about the mine, for or against.
- Regulations on the Kuskokwim River are intended to keep fish populations sustainable for the future. But they can be frustrating for the Yup'ik people who've fished the river for generations.