Mayor will pen letter to Secretary of State about transboundary mines

In 2015, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed a resolution asking the United States government to ask the Canadian government to keep Alaska’s environmental interests in mind as it pursues mining in British Columbia.

Nearly three years later, the Assembly redoubled its efforts. The Assembly members agreed Monday to draft a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to work with Canadian officials to consider Alaska’s fisheries and communities as it considers mining projects in B.C.

The letter will echo a letter that Gov. Bill Walker, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and the Alaska Congressional Delegation sent Tillerson on Nov. 13, Mayor Ken Koelsch said. That letter carries the signatures of Walker, Mallott, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

It will also refer back to the city’s resolution in February 2015 urging the Canadian government to involve the International Joint Commission (IJC), which is a bi-national organization that looks to prevent and resolve disputes between the U.S. and Canada about their boundary waters. The 2015 resolution also asked that IJC investigate the long-term downstream effects of proposed and existing industrial developments.

Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis proposed that Koelsch draft the letter, referencing meetings that the Assembly members had with Salmon Beyond Borders, which is a campaign to “defend and sustain our transboundary rivers, jobs and way of life,” according to its website.

The city also joins a group of 29 tribes that partnered together in October to work together in opposing mining projects in both Southeast and Bristol Bay. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) and the Douglas Indian Association (DIA) were included in the agreement.

The governments of Alaska and B.C. have been in contact in recent years about the issue, signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 that was a non-binding agreement for the two governments to work together whenever possible. The two governments also signed a Statement of Cooperation in October 2016 that served as another pledge for the two sides to work together in researching the long-term effects that mining projects would have.

A Salmon Without Borders statement following the November letter said agreements such as the Memorandum of Understanding are good to see, but involving the federal government is a bigger step.

“A complementary process between the U.S. and Canada that ultimately leads to binding protections for Alaskans is essential in seeking an international solution for this international problem,” the statement read.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or alex.mccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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 Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

People work together to raise the Xa’Kooch story pole, which commemorates the Battle of the Inian Islands. (Shaelene Grace Moler / For the Capital City Weekly)
Resilient Peoples & Place: The Xa’Kooch story pole — one step toward a journey of healing

“This pole is for the Chookaneidi, but here among us, many clans are represented…”

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

A chart shows what critics claim is poor financial performance by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, especially in subsidizing private industry projects intended to boost the state’s economy, during its 55-year existence. The chart is part of a report released Tuesday criticizing the agency. (MB Barker/LLC Erickson & Associates/EcoSystems LLC)
AIDEA’s fiscal performance fishy, critics say

Report presented by salmon industry advocates asserts state business subsidy agency cost public $10B

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across the guided missile cruiser from the People's Republic of China, officials said Monday, Sept. 26.  (U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via AP)
Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

This wasn’t the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

j
Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

Most Read