December 4, 2014 Newsletter
Welcome to the latest edition of the SAA News. I hope you enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving and that you’re headed toward a wonderful remainder of your holiday season. I also hope you’ve been able to get out and enjoy the late season fishing and hunting opportunities wherever you live or your travels have taken you. There is some big news to report on the Bristol Bay front involving the efforts of the Pebble Limited Partnership litigating against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, it’s not the best news as the EPA’s Clean Water Act process is likely going to be delayed. There is also some news about Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. You can always check the Latest News page for a comprehensive collection of updates on issues of interest to anglers and hunters and the Last Frontier.
Bristol Bay: EPA’s Clean Water Act Process Delayed by Pebble Lawsuit
As the saying goes, “nothing worth fighting for comes easy.” After years of going through the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process, the EPA had undertaken action under the Clean Water Act using a process that could lead to the protection of Bristol Bay from the dangers posed by development large-scale mines such as the proposed Pebble Mine. The timeline for EPA to potentially take the next step in this process was slated for early February 2015. Since all its major investors have left the project, the Pebble Limited Partnership has resorted to legal and legislative attacks against the EPA in an effort to thwart this work. In late November, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in Pebble’s favor that will delay EPA’s timeline. The judge dismissed two Pebble claims that the EPA process involved collusion with anti-Pebble interests and biased scientists. The judge is allowing Pebble’s third claim that the EPA improperly turned to an anti-mine team as it worked on its study of how a big mine would affect the Bristol Bay watershed to continue, provided Pebble amends their suit and resubmits. Much is unknown at this time, as it will take months for the legal process to play out. One thing is quite certain, however, and that is the unfortunate fact that this battle just got extended. Coverage (much more on the SAA Latest News page) and reaction:
Bristol Bay: Playing Defense in Congress
Just a sample of what we’re fighting for. / Credit: Rich Hohne
|Pebble is also pursuing legislative avenues to derail EPA’s work to potentially protect Bristol Bay. Bills have been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would impact EPA’s ability to use the specific section of the Clean Water Act that is being employed in the case of Bristol Bay. While the current Congress concludes its lame duck session, we must be vigilant that nothing is snuck through as a rider on unrelated legislation that could affect EPA’s ability to employ the Clean Water Act in Bristol Bay. Once the new Congress begins in early 2015, we anticipate similar legislation to be considered. Please stay tuned and be ready to contact your members of Congress to ask them to oppose any legislation that would weaken the Clean Water Act as it applies to Bristol Bay.|
Bristol Bay: 2015 Sockeye Return Forecast to be Highest in 20 Years
While the dark cloud of Pebble continues to hang over the Bristol Bay region, we are provided with a reminder of one of the major reasons that so many have fought to defend Bristol Bay for so long in the form of the 2015 forecast numbers for sockeye salmon returns.
The Alaska Dispatch News reported that the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game is predicting a run of 54 million fish, while the University of Washington predicts nearly 50 million sockeye. The long-term average return is 32 million sockeye, and the last time the return was over 50 million was back in 1995.
Tongass National Forest USFS Dragging Feet on the Transition?
Areas of clear cut logging in the Tongass / Credit: Scott Hed
Trout Unlimited Alaska issued a press release on how the Tongass National Forest’s planned transition out of logging old-growth trees and toward a more sustainable harvest model based on second-growth trees is not being implemented in a timely fashion.
The report from Headwaters Economics can be viewed at The Tongass Transition Framework: A New Path Forward?
Trans-Boundary Mine Threats in Southeast Alaska
British Columbia's ambition of opening new mines in the province's north has raised fears in neighboring Alaska where conservation, commercial fishing, and Native groups say the unchecked development threatens their salmon and tourism industries.
- The Vancouver Sun reports that Alaskans fear environmental, industrial threats from mines in northwest British Columbia.
- A new report about the proposed KSM mine in northwest British Columbia near Southeast Alaska finds that the project’s remote location, low-grade ore, and geotechnical challenges make it risky, expensive, and unusually difficult to build.
Miscellany: Other Stuff Around Alaska
- On the day before Thanksgiving, the Presidents and CEOs of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation and the Bristol Bay Native Association co-authored an opinion editorial in the Alaska Dispatch News giving thanks for the resources of Bristol Bay and vowing to continue fighting to protect them.
- A professor from the University of Washington wrote an opinion editorial in the Seattle Times about the proposed Susitna Dam project in south central Alaska.
- The Juneau Empire editorialized on the need to continue to put pressure on officials over proposed large-scale mines along the British Columbia Southeast Alaska border.
- In a reminder that mines can cause long-lasting problems, an Australian-led mining company and five of its executives are facing criminal charges (a first in Alaska) over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to a platinum mine in western Alaska, per the Alaska Dispatch News.
Alaska Video Vault
- Watch 14 minutes of beautiful footage on how salmon fuel the ecosystem in Southeast Alaska in The Nutrient Cycle.
Other Ways to Support SAA and the Fight for Fishing and Hunting in Alaska
SAA is grateful for the generous support of individuals, businesses, and foundations. Your donations allow SAA to continue to work on efforts to protect prime fishing and hunting habitats in the Last Frontier for the benefit of current and future sportsmen and women. Make your donations online at the secure online donation page; all amounts are accepted and appreciated SAA is a lean, mean, one-man operation but it takes funding to do this work. For donations of the following amounts, please include “SAA” and indicate what item you’d like to receive in the “comment” box on the donation page.
BONUS: All donations of $50 or more will receive a copy of Equilibrium on DVD by Castaway Films!
- $20 Waypoints DVD from Confluence Films ($30 value) or No Pebble Mine trucker hat or No Pebble Mine red sockeye design t-shirt ($30 value and only 25 in stock) or Aquafly box ($20 value)
- $60 BEST Deal Get all four $20 items (DVD, hat, t-shirt, fly box) specify t-shirt size!
- $125 4-in-1 Alaska or Fab Four - Alaskan September giclee print by Derek DeYoung (13” x 19”) ($120 value)
$125 - “Fab Four Alaskan September” by Derek DeYoung
(If you have any questions on how to donate, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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Thanks for caring about Alaska conservation. Your support and actions will ensure a future for Alaska’s fish and game and for coming generations of sportsmen and women to enjoy them.
Director Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska