Chum salmon are loaded into a tote at Alaska Glacier Seafoods in this Juneau Empire file photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Chum salmon are loaded into a tote at Alaska Glacier Seafoods in this Juneau Empire file photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

U.S. lawmakers line up against salmon measure

Murkowski, Sullivan and Young urge no vote on Stand for Salmon, but public testimony leans yes

Alaska’s congressional delegation spoke up about state politics on Saturday, urging Alaskans to vote against a controversial salmon habitat protection measure up for a vote Nov. 6.

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowksi and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young all spoke against Ballot Measure 1 at a statewide public call-in testimony in Anchorage.

Not counting the Republican delegation, testimony from citizens favored the Stand for Salmon measure by a count of 22-12.

Murkowski said the measure, which changes permitting requirements for development on anadromous fish habitat, will hurt the economy and would not help Alaska’s beleaguered salmon runs. Salmon are suffering in the ocean environment, not in freshwater systems, Murkowski said.

“We are looking at a solution that will not address the problem,” Murkowski said.

Sullivan invoked the solidarity of Alaska’s elected representatives in opposing the measure.

“All senior elected officials, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, the entire congressional delegation, the governor, many of our top state legislators or elected state senators and members of the house, all are opposed to this measure because we would see what it would do to our economic future, jobs and our families,” Sullivan said.

Young said the measure would hamper development so severely that, should it pass, Alaska would look more like it did in its days as a U.S. territory.

“It will stop Alaska dead in its tracks. … It will become a territory again,” Young said.

The 85-year-old congressman also took a shot at lawyers, saying “we have too many of them already” and Ballot Measure 1 would hamper development by tying it up in the courts.

Public testimony skewed in favor of the ballot measure.

Many on both sides of the issue decried out-of-state influence on initiative process. Mining and oil and gas companies have donated millions to opposition group Stand for Alaska, which has raised $11.5 million through Oct. 5, according to reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Initiative backers Stand for Salmon have raised $1.3 million through the same date, some of it coming from out-of-state.

“I think it would be a tragedy if we allowed corporate interests to make decisions for us,” said one Anchorage supporter.

[Pebble VP: Project ‘OK’ if salmon measure passes]

Ballot Measure 1 creates different permitting paths for differently sized projects built on anadromous (e.g. salmon) fish habitats. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game could issue a general permit — a single permit that applies to many people — for certain activities.

The measure would establish a two-track permitting system, one for major projects and one for minor projects, for development that doesn’t qualify for a general permit.

Projects that pose a risk of “significant adverse effects” to anadromous fish habitat would be considered major, while ones that don’t have potential for significant harm would be considered minor.

Saturday’s call-in public testimony was the last in a series of public comment meetings held around the state and remotely. Responses have varied at different locations. Testimony in Juneau, Sitka and Dillingham has leaned for the measure, while testimony at an Anchorage forum was more even, according to media reports.

The State of Alaska records the public testimony and uses it to form a Frequently Asked Questions document about Ballot Measure 1, which is available at https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Notices/Attachment.aspx?id=114005

The statewide general election is Nov. 6. Early voting in the Mendenhall Mall Annex opens Oct. 22.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


More in Home

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé goalkeeper Alex Mallott stops a shot by Ketchikan’s Joe Larson (9) during the Crimson Bears 4-2 win May 17 over the Kings during the regional tournament at Adair-Kennedy Field. JDHS defeated Ketchikan again in state semifinals to advance to the state title game. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)
Both JDHS soccer teams are playing for the state title on Saturday

Boys to defend crown in rematch against Soldotna, followed by top-seeded girls against Kenai Central

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

(Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire file photo)
Both JDHS soccer teams advance to state semifinals after decisive wins

Top-seeded girls stay undefeated with 5-0 win against Palmer, second-seeded boys top Homer 3-1.

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

Most Read