Alaskans worried about the potential impact of upstream Canadian mines on Southeast Alaska fisheries officially got their voices heard by the State Department after years of asking for federal intervention.
An assistant secretary of state wrote in an October letter to the Alaska congressional delegation that the State Department is actively engaged with Canadian officials to protect the “transboundary” watersheds that bisect the U.S.-Canada border along Southeast Alaska.
The October letter was in response to a September request from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting the State Department to establish a formal way for Canadian officials to consult with U.S. federal and state agencies and Alaska Native tribes during Canada’s mine permitting process, similar to the domestic environmental impact statement process. It was the second such letter the delegation had sent to Kerry since May.
Numerous Southeast Alaska environmental, commercial fishing, and Alaska Native groups have called for IJC involvement in recent years, but the commission can only be spurred by a formal call from either the State Department or Canada’s Global Affairs Department.
The delegation characterized the State Department response as a significant positive step, but far from a resolution to the issue.
The massive 2014 Mount Polley mine tailings dam failure in the Upper Fraser River drainage validated concerns about gaps in Canada’s environmental protections, the Alaska Native, commercial fishing and conservation groups contend.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.alaskajournal.com/2016-12-21/year-review-mining#.WFwOT1MrLIU