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Friday, February 19, 2016

Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, February 2016 Newsletter

Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska

February 15, 2016 Newsletter

Here’s to hoping you and yours enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. Hard to believe another year has passed, but 2016 is here and the work to protect Alaska’s incredible fish and game habitats and resources goes on. In this edition of the SAA news, you’ll find updates on the Tongass National Forest, Bristol Bay / Pebble Mine, and the Transboundary mining threat, as well as some general tidbits and videos about enjoying the wonders of the Great Land. You can always see a comprehensive collection of news items on the Latest News page.

Tongass National Forest – Comment Now on Tongass Plan Amendment
  • Our nation’s largest national forest – Southeast Alaska’s Tongass – is currently accepting comments on a proposed amendment to the Tongass’ management plan. One very positive component of the amendment is adding higher levels of protection to the “Tongass 77” watersheds. Under the amendment, these highly productive areas would be protected from future development and would consider production of fish and wildlife as their highest priority.

Bristol Bay: Pebble is NOT DEAD; Backers Pin Hopes on Courts & Congress
The campaign to protect Bristol Bay goes on. While it’s not front and center like it was for many years, the battle has not been won (as some believe). Relying on sound science and with massive public support in Alaska and around the nation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a set of common-sense restrictions in July 2014 that could protect Bristol Bay and its incomparable wild salmon fishery from dangerous large-scale mines such as the proposed Pebble Mine. Without any major financial backing, the Pebble Limited Partnership has resorted to tactics aimed at delaying EPA’s finalization of the proposed restrictions – filing lawsuits against EPA and lobbying Congress to change the rules of the game in the late innings. EPA is currently prohibited from completing its Bristol Bay work under the Clean Water Act until one of Pebble’s various lawsuits is sorted out. In the meantime, Pebble is spending money on high-priced lobbyists to attempt to influence Congress and pass legislation which would change the Clean Water Act itself, taking away EPA’s ability to use the Act in Bristol Bay at this point.

Recently, Pebble’s backers made some extremely bold and aggressive statements at a mining investment convention in Vancouver. They clearly are not ready to give up, and we need to fight as hard as ever for Bristol Bay.

And, the EPA has recently stated that due to the litigation delay, any agency action to block mining in Bristol Bay will likely have to wait until the next presidential administration.

  • Former Alaska state Senate president Rick Halford testified in front of a U.S. House Committee about how the region supports EPA’s efforts to protect the Bristol Bay fishery.
  • The Pebble Limited Partnership had issued subpoenas to roughly 60 organizations and individuals who are opposed to the idea of a large mine in Bristol Bay, but a federal judge threw out some of the subpoenas and Pebble has withdrawn most of the others. Story in theAlaska Dispatch News.
  • For a roundup of 2015 happenings on the Pebble Mine front, which wasn’t very good for the project’s backers, read this piece in the Huffington Post.
  • When Pebble did not like the results of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, they asked the EPA’s independent Inspector General to conduct a review of the assessment process. Well, the IG report came out on January 13, and it cleared EPA of bias or pre-determined outcome. Story in the Washington Post.

Transboundary Mining Threat
The threat of impacts to clean water and fisheries from the rapid development and expansion of large mines on the British Columbia side of the USA-Canada border in southeast Alaska was featured in a recent opinion editorial in the New York Times.

Miscellaneous Items From Around Alaska

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