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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions


By Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott  

October 12, 2017
Thursday AM

One of the best parts of my job, and one of the most challenging, is to keep working toward Alaska goals that are not easily and quickly achieved. Perhaps my role as an elder has given me patience in dealing with an ever-changing political landscape at the local, national, and international level. But that’s not to say I don’t get frustrated and impatient like you do when incremental movement seems agonizingly slow.

In regard to our transboundary watersheds, I want the Tulsequah Chief acid mine drainage stopped once and for all. I want to ensure federal resources are made available to maintain a robust system of baseline and continuing water quality measurement in all transboundary river systems. And I want to address catastrophic liability response for mines that in the future, could pose a danger to the transboundary waters it impacts. I advocated for these specific actions during my September trip to Washington, D.C when I met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Canadian Embassy and with our Congressional delegation.

Some say the State of Alaska is not supporting a request from certain stakeholders to approach the International Joint Commission as an avenue to address these issues. While I have said this publicly before, I want to be clear that the Walker-Mallott Administration supports the efforts of those seeking the involvement of either or both the U.S. and Canadian governments in any action that is responsive to the need to protect transboundary river systems. This means providing resources to allow meaningful response and engage fully with Provincial, Territorial, State of Alaska governmental institutions, First Nations, Tribes and all stakeholders.

The Walker-Mallott Administration signed a Statement of Cooperation (SOC) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with British Columbia (BC) last year. These documents created a structured process for our ongoing, collaborative work. The SOC has proven to be a helpful tool in continuing to build our working relationship with BC, and provides us with defined pathways for providing input on proposed permits, assessments and authorizations for mineral activities in BC. Ministry staff has continued to keep us involved in their processes.

I return to British Columbia in November to reach out to newly elected key officials, including the Ministers of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; and Environment and Climate Change Strategy. I am also planning a trip to Ottawa with our congressional delegation to press Alaska’s priorities with Canada’s federal officials. Top among these priorities is the continued protection of Alaska’s rivers.

It remains vitally important for all of us to advocate at the local, state and federal levels in this effort. With our combined efforts, we will strengthen our ability to weigh in on decisions that impact the lives of Alaskans who live, work and depend on our transboundary waters.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott
Juneau, Alaska

About: Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott leads the State of Alaska Transboundary Working Group in Juneau.


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received October 05, 2017 - Published October 12, 2017

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