In northern British Columbia, a mining frenzy is underway that threatens Alaska fisheries and tourism jobs. Spurred by weakened environmental regulations and the construction of a massive new power line that is one of Canada’s biggest transmission projects ever, as many as a dozen new large-scale mines are undergoing exploration in the mineral-rich region that borders Southeast Alaska. At least five of these Canadian mineral projects are located in transboundary watersheds of key salmon rivers including the Stikine, the Taku, the Whiting, and the Unuk. These mines could produce water pollution that may harm Southeast Alaska fishing and tourism industries while offering few, if any, economic benefits to the region. The project farthest along in the development process and one that could cause substantial environmental damage is Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell mine (KSM) located in the headwaters of the Unuk River. The 80-mile-long Unuk produces one of Southeast Alaska’s largest king salmon runs and flows into Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, a popular attraction for many of the region’s one million annual visitors.
The public comment period on KSM closed October 21, 2013. More than 250 people weighed in with concerns–most of them Southeast Alaskans. The public should now contact members of Alaska’s congressional delegation and ask them to engage the U.S. State Department on this matter.
Senator Mark Begich
111 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Fax (202) 224-2354
Email contact: Bob_King@begich.senate.gov
Senator Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Fax (202) 224-5301
Email contact: Jay_Sterne@murkowski.senate.gov
Representative Don Young
2314 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515
Email contact: Erik.Elam@mail.house.gov
Shared by Northwest BC and Southeast Alaska, the transboundary region is vast, alive and abundant. In all, the transboundary watersheds cover over 130,000 square kilometers/32 million acres, a geographic area equal in size to Switzerland and Portugal put together. The region extends from high alpine tundra to the coastal marine environment of Southeast Alaska and the Tongass National Forest. Learn more about B.C. mineral development and how it could negatively impact Southeast Alaska.
How You Can Take Action
It is crucial to make your concerns known to Alaska’s congressional delegation about how British Columbia’s mining boom could negatively impact Southeast Alaska’s vibrant fishing and tourism industries. Please add your voice to the growing list of people who want to protect Southeast Alaska’s fisheries and tourism industries from B.C. mine pollution. Sign the online petition and your name will be added to the list of those who are urging the Alaska congressional delegation to seek U.S. State Department involvement in this issue.