Alaska fisheries ballot battle becomes more expensive

This year’s fish fight is already half as expensive as the 2014 ballot battle over Alaska’s oil and gas tax system.

According to new filings from the Alaska Public Offices commission, mining firms Teck Alaska and Donlin Gold have donated an additional $1.2 million to a group whose mission is to campaign against Ballot Measure 1 in this fall’s election.

According to the report filed July 6 by “Stand for Alaska — Vote No on One,” contributors have now provided $6.3 million to the opposition’s cause.

A July 10 report filed by “Yes for Salmon,” which is backing Ballot Measure 1, shows just over $989,000 in contributions.

“Stand for Salmon,” which is also backing the measure, reported about $105,000 in contributions in a report filed July 7.

The Washington, D.C.-based New Venture Fund and Trout Unlimited also have reported a few thousand dollars in expenses supporting the ballot measure.

In 2014, Alaskans spent more than $14 million backing and opposing a ballot measure that aimed to repeal an oil tax cut known as Senate Bill 21. More than $13 million of that tally was spent on “vote no” efforts backing the tax cut, and less than $1 million was spent by “vote yes” proponents.

Teck Alaska is the operator of the Red Dog zinc and lead mine in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Donlin is developing a gold mine on a tributary of the Kuskokwim River in southwest Alaska. If approved, the mine would be one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the world.

According to APOC records, Stand for Alaska is spending heavily on radio and TV advertising. The organization reported nearly $800,000 in ad buys on June 26; it is spending another $75,000 on internet ads.

Initiative backers appear to be working more at the individual level, with their largest listed expenses being printed material and staff time organizing volunteers and contacting voters.

Ballot Measure 1 seeks to strengthen environmental protections for salmon-bearing streams and rivers across the state. It has been opposed by a broad coalition of construction, mining and petroleum corporations who argue that it would impair projects across the state. Local governments have also raised concerns about how road construction and other building efforts would be affected.

The Alaska Supreme Court is also considering the measure’s constitutionality. Alaska’s constitution prohibits ballot measures that make appropriations — of resources such as land and water, as well as money — and the state of Alaska is arguing that the measure is so broad that it effectively allocates state waters for fish, at the expense of other uses.

A ruling on the matter is expected before August.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 14

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This October 2020 photo shows the MV Kennicott. The Alaska Marine Highway System's winter ferry schedule is now available for review. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Winter ferry schedule available for review

Comments now being accepted.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wait for an opportunity to talk to her at her newly Juneau campaign headquarters Thursday evening at Kootznoowoo Plaza. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Murkowski opens up at Juneau HQ debut

Senator chats with supporters about U.S. vs. Belgium voting, moose chili and Project Veritas

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Senate candidate Shoshana Gungurstein stars in a campaign sign within view of the Alaska governor’s mansion. Gungurstein, an independent, got exposure this week for being a Hollywood actress under a different last name after questions about her past went unanswered throughout the campaign. She is one of 19 candidates seeking to be among the four selected in next Tuesday’s primary to compete in the November general election. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Senate candidate sheds more light on background

Shoshana Gungurstein responds at length to recent report on past film career.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Drug arrest made in Skagway

Police say a suspicious package was intercepted.

This late-April photo shows a damaged sticker on a door at Thunder Mountain High School reminding people to social distance and wear masks inside the building. Masks will not be required in school buildings this year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

Most Read