Alaska fisheries ballot battle becomes more expensive

Mines dump $1.2 million more into ‘vote no’ campaign; total spending tops $7.2 million

A salmon is seen in an undated file photo. (Juneau Empire)

A salmon is seen in an undated file photo. (Juneau Empire)

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

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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

An illustration depicts a planned 12-acre education campus located on 42 acres in Juneau owned by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which was announced during the opening of its annual tribal assembly Wednesday. (Image courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Tribal education campus, cultural immersion park unveiled as 89th annual Tlingit and Haida Assembly opens

State of the Tribe address emphasizes expanding geographical, cultural and economic “footprint.”

In an undated image provided by Ken Hill/National Park Service, Alaska, the headwaters of the Ambler River in the Noatak National Preserve of Alaska, near where a proposed access road would end. The Biden administration is expected to deny permission for a mining company to build a 211-mile industrial road through fragile Alaskan wilderness, handing a victory to environmentalists in an election year when the president wants to underscore his credentials as a climate leader and conservationist. (Ken Hill/National Park Service, Alaska via The New York Times)
Biden’s Interior Department said to reject industrial road through Alaskan wilderness

The Biden administration is expected to deny permission for a mining company… Continue reading

An aerial view of downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Task force to study additional short-term rental regulations favored by Juneau Assembly members

Operator registration requirement that took effect last year has 79% compliance rate, report states.

Cheer teams for Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé perform a joint routine between quarters of a Feb. 24 game between the girls’ basketball teams of both schools. It was possibly the final such local matchup, with all high school students scheduled to be consolidated into JDHS starting during the next school year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
State OKs school district’s consolidation plan; closed schools cannot reopen for at least seven years

Plans from color-coded moving boxes to adjusting bus routes well underway, district officials say.

Snow falls on the Alaska Capitol and the statue of William Henry Seward on Monday, April 1. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s carbon storage bill, once a revenue measure, is now seen as boon for oil and coal

Last year, when Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed legislation last year to allow… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, April 15, 2024

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

Most Read