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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

April 14, 2022

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Southeast Alaska: DNR places conditions on 18 mining-contaminated sites; Most contaminated sites located in Southeast Alaska Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Department of Natural Resource in March gave notice it plans to place conditions on state-owned land at 18 sites to prevent the spread of historic mining contamination, while allowing future mining only under specific protective conditions.

The department announced March 21, 2022 that 30-day notice was given of its intent to issue “Leaseholder Location Orders” (LLOs) covering potential future mining activity on approximately 4,600 acres of state tide and submerged lands in Southeast Alaska, the Prince William Sound, and Southwest Alaska, said DNR Commissioner Corri Feige. The impacted tide and submerged lands were contaminated by mining or smelting activities mostly on adjacent private and federal uplands.

“Though these sites are now classified for generally allowed uses like hunting, food gathering or recreation, there may still be valid mining claims being worked, as well as minerals that might interest future miners,” Feige said. “Creating LLOs for these lands enables us to put protections in place that will prevent the spread of historic contamination. This will benefit current and future users and will facilitate clean-up efforts overseen by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).”

Feige emphasized that the contamination on the sites were caused by historic, mining practices that are prohibited by modern state laws and regulations, and that would violate contemporary minerals industry practices.

The Department of Natural Resource’s stated in a news release its decision to issue the LLOs was inspired by the case of the Klag Bay gold mine located in Southeast Alaska, which left contamination after operating on private land on Chichagof Island from 1905 to 1942. The contamination spread to submerged land that became state land in 1959, and is the current site of some small-scale mining, as well as subsistence and recreational activities.

Richard Lessard, section lead for DNR’s Mining, Mineral Property Management, working with Patty Burns, chief of DNR’s Statewide Abatement of Impaired Land (SAIL) section, agree that Klag Bay Mine site is one of many contaminated sites in Alaska where LLOs could be beneficial. Many of the sites contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury or arsenic, that are regulated by DEC. Eleven of the 18 sites are located in Southeast Alaska.

A full list of the 18 mines in the historical mining contamination Leasehold Location Orders was requested by SitNews. The list revealed that 11 sites on the list are located in Southeast Alaska, those are:

Site 41: Beaver Falls Mine, 300 acres (Ketchikan area)
Site 42: Riverside Mine, 300 acres (Misty Fjords National Monument area)
Site 43: Mahoney Zinc Mine, 130 acres (Ketchikan area)
Site 44: Sea-level mine, 130 acres (Ketchikan area)
Site 45: Mexican Mine Mill Tailings & Treadwell Mine Complex ,430 acres (Lynn Canal area)
Site 48: Hirst Chichagof Mine (Kimshan Cove), 120 acres, (north of Sitka)
Site 49: Klag Bay Mine, 140 acres (north of Sitka area)
Site 50: Ross Adams Mine (Bokan Mountain). 150 acres (Prince of Wales area)
Site 51: Coppermount Smelter, 170 acres, (Prince of Wales area)
ite 52: Hadley Smelter, 550 acres (Prince of Wales area)
Site 53: Salt Chuck Mine, 410 acres (Prince of Wales area) - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

Ketchikan: Ooligan proposal approved by Alaska Board of Fisheries  - Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council recently announced that, 'thanks to the strong support of its Tribal members and leaders', the Alaska Board of Fisheries passed Proposal 142 on March 22, 2022, dealing with Ooligan on the Joonax (Unuk) River. The unanimous passage of this proposal removes a major barrier for people living in the City and Borough of Ketchikan to harvest Ooligan on the Joonax (Unuk) River.

In conjunction with this proposal, KIC’s Cultural Resources staff are also conducting an eDNA and baseline water quality study on the Joonax (Unuk) River to get accurate abundance data to better conserve this vital resource for our Tribal citizens.

Quoting a news release, "This builds on the success we had in 2021 with the USFS In-season Manager opening the freshwater portion of the river. While this new regulation does not guarantee an opening every year, we can say with confidence that the potential for this fishery to open for personal-use harvesters is high. KIC Cultural Resources staff will continue to work with Fish & Game staff to make the public aware when the fishery opens in the future." - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

Alaska: Highest Inflation in Four Decades Continues; Murkowski demands comprehensive response from Biden administration Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN- The National Bureau of Labor statistics just released the latest Consumer Price Index reporting the 'all items index' continued to accelerate, rising 8.5 percent for the 12 months ending March 2022, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. The all items less food and energy index rose 6.5 percent, the largest 12-month change since the period ending August 1982. The energy index rose 32.0 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 8.8 percent, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1981.

In response to the release of the report, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a statement writing, “The numbers in this report serve to underscore the painful reality that Alaskans are facing every time they go to a grocery store or a gas station. Just about everything is being impacted by rising inflation as we see the cost of transportation and the overall cost of living punish families and businesses across our state." 

“In rural parts of Alaska, the impacts are even more dramatic. In Noatak, people are paying almost $18 for a gallon of gasoline. In Point Hope, families are paying up to $8 for a loaf of bread and $3.39 for a quart of milk. These are real impacts that can be financially crippling," wrote Murkowski. 

Murkowski demanded a comprehensive response from the Biden administration writing, “What we are seeing demands a comprehensive response from the Biden administration, the Federal Reserve, and policymakers. As part of that, we need to focus on supply chains and increase the domestic supply of a wide range of resources - starting with energy, which rose by 11 percent over the past month alone - and extending to minerals, which form the basis for just about every product in our modern society.

“Alaska is uniquely positioned to help, if only the Biden administration would allow us to do so. We can produce more oil, to ease pain at the pump. We can build a gas-line, to add billions of cubic feet to world markets each day. We can produce graphite, cobalt, and many additional minerals to help restrain rising commodity prices. And we can do all this without compromising environmental standards and continuing to reduce emissions," Murkowski wrote.

In conclusion Murkowski wrote, “Resource producers in Alaska are ready to work. It’s time for the Biden administration to unleash our potential to help reduce inflation. At this point, there’s simply no substitute and no excuse for not doing so.”

In a press briefing held April 12th aboard Air Force One En Route to Des Moines,, President Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki who speaks on his behalf, responded to a question asking: "Jen, you just mentioned that 70 percent of the CPI increase was gasoline related.  We saw prices go up for housing, men’s clothing, airfare - food - you know, transportation, and all sorts of things.  I’m just wondering if - what in this report has the White House convinced that inflation isn’t being embedded into the economy going forward?" - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022


Alaska: Alaska Opposes Termination of Title 42 by the CDC - Today, the State of Alaska joins a coalition of states to challenge the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) termination of Title 42, which was introduced in March 2020 as the Trump Administration dealt with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

The lawsuit argues that the Biden Administration’s unlawful termination of the Title 42 policy will significantly increase illegal immigration into the United States.

Two years ago, on March 24, 2020, the first Title 42 Order was issued. The CDC published a final rule on September 11, 2020, which established final regulations under which the Director of the CDC may suspend the right to prohibit the introduction of persons into the United States to avert the severe danger of introducing a quarantinable communicable disease into the United States.

The lawsuit alleges the Termination Order’s timing will significantly exacerbate an already extant meltdown of operational control at the southern border. Press reports state that the Biden Administration has internally predicted that the daily number of illegal immigrants unlawfully trying to enter the United States could nearly triple because of the termination of Title 42. This unprecedented surge will overwhelm states’ capacity to enforce immigration laws at the border.

President Biden reversed President Trump’s other successful border policies, including the Remain in Mexico policy and the Safe Third Country agreement. Despite record-high border crossings, deportations under President Biden have dropped to the lowest levels in Immigration and Customs Enforcement history.

States bear many of the consequences of unlawful immigration. However, states are limited in their ability to engage in their immigration enforcement activities and thus rely significantly on the federal government to fulfill its duties under the immigration laws.

“The Termination Order is detrimental to the states tasked with enforcing immigration standards, and it is not logically appropriate,” says Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “This policy runs contrary to the Biden Administration’s other declarations because it is expressly premised on the decrease of COVID-19, but the Administration has ignored these facts by enforcing mandatory vaccination and mask mandates.” - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022


Alaska: Sullivan, Speier, Murkowski Call on Army Secretary to Address High Alaska Servicemember Suicide Rate - U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have sent a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth calling on the Army to do more to address the high incidence of service member deaths by suicide in Alaska and to take comprehensive actions to change the current trajectory.

The letter noted the problem is especially acute at Fort Wainwright, a duty station for which many are not adequately screened or prepared. When soldiers need help dealing with these stressors, they face exorbitant wait times before being able to meet with a clinician for one-on-one behavioral or mental health treatment. Quoting the letter, "As it stands, we are failing our service members."

“It is a tragedy that the scourge of suicide disproportionately harms Alaska's military service members and their families,” Senator Sullivan said. “Alaska is home to thousands of military service members and more veterans per capita than any other state. But along with that proud distinction, our state also has horrifically high rates of military suicide. As a Marine, I have seen firsthand what happens when service members suffering from a mental health crisis do not receive help. Even when a service member musters the courage to seek help, it can take 60 days to actually see a professional - and, as we’re seeing, these brave Americans rarely have 60 days."

The letter to Secretary Wormuth asks for the Army’s plans to address several areas of concern based on observations and extensive feedback from service members and civilians in Alaska, including: - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

Alaska: Legislature urges federal government to maximize resource development in NPR-A - The Alaska State Legislature affirmed its commitment to responsibly developing Alaska's resources in the National Petroleum Reserve. House Joint Resolution 34, which urges the United States Department of the Interior to maximize the area available for oil and gas leasing within the NPR-A, and to take into account Alaska's history of safe and responsible development, passed the Senate yesterday with a vote of 14-0. HJR 34 passed the House 35-0 on March 18th of this year.

“The 2020 NPR-A management plan was developed in close partnership with the North Slope Borough and in consultation with North Slope Tribes and Alaska Native corporations, carefully balancing subsistence-use needs and habitat protections with economic development opportunities and community infrastructure needs,” said Representative Josiah Patkotak (I-Utqiagvik), the resolution's sponsor. “The Department of the Interior’s recent decision to abandon this plan - without consulting with local, regional, state, or tribal entities - is a step in the wrong direction. This resolution sends a strong message to Washington that responsible resource development of the NPR-A could bring enormous benefits to some of the most underserved communities in the nation and that Alaskans need to be included in future NPR-A management decisions.” - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

jpg Endless northern winter about to end

Endless northern winter about to end
The frozen Yukon River winds through flatlands in mid-April 2018.


Alaska: Endless northern winter about to end By NED ROZELL - In mid-April, despite a day length that is four hours longer than Miami’s, middle Alaska is still a part of the cryosphere. 

Scrolling back through my photos, I see snow on the ground during a high school running competition on Sept. 27. Patches of that snowfall hid from the sun all winter, surviving on north-facing slopes.

For the last seven months, our reflectiveness and slipperiness has been high. Such is life in Fairbanks, Alaska, even in a warming world.

Thinking back over the long winter, there was one extra-dramatic event here, when it rained more than an inch the day after Christmas. That water splashing onto supercooled surfaces — like asphalt roads and the snow surface — morphed to ice. Our tarp garage collapsed; I still haven’t dealt with it.

Though some of that ice has melted or sublimated straight into a gas, helping to make our roads a less jarring experience, a layer of ice remains in the snowpack like a pane of glass. 

That has been tough on the moose, who take that hit right in the shins. They stumbled to our packed snowmachine (and automobile) trails right after the December rain and never really left them.

Since moose need to eat the equivalent of a large garbage bag full of frozen twigs to survive each night, the ice and deep snow that hindered their movement has been significant. Biologists won’t know the full effect for a while, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers already canceled next season’s antlerless moose hunt in the Fairbanks area.

Also, right after the Christmas ice storm, University of Alaska Fairbanks ecologist Knut Kielland speculated on hard times for owls and other creatures that depend on voles that live under the snow surface. With that layer of ice sealing the small creatures off from scurrying on top, how would an owl get its food?

That too, may be playing out; I have not heard boreal owls singing this winter. - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

Columns - Commentary



CARL GOLDEN: BIDEN AND HARRIS PRESENT A SHAKY FUTURE FOR DEMOCRATS - In the history of the Watergate scandal of 1972 – arguably the most egregious instance of government corruption in the nation’s history – one of the consistent narratives involves the cold political calculation reached by embattled President Richard Nixon that he was shielded from impeachment because Congress was horrified at the prospect of a President Spiro Agnew.

Nixon is said to have characterized his vice president as “my insurance policy,” telling close associates and his White House staff that for Congress the political risk of elevating Agnew to the presidency was greater than the risk of opposing impeachment proceedings.

Nixon’s insurance policy was cancelled when Agnew resigned from office in October of 1973 after pleading no contest to income tax evasion charges. Facing certain impeachment, Nixon resigned less than a year later.

Substitute President Biden for Nixon and Vice President Kamala Harris for Agnew and the parallels are similar. - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022


PETER ROFF: PUSH FOR NEW ANTITRUST RULES INFESTED WITH CRONYISM? - An unlikely coalition of senators is backing Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar’s bill to drastically overhaul the nation’s antitrust laws. They may want to give her proposal another read, because there are things about it that might not be what they seem.

Klobuchar wants to be president and is counting on this legislation, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, to establish the progressive bona fides she needs to leap to the front of the pack running for president the next time the Democratic presidential nomination is up for grabs.

If she expects her effort to excite the people whose spines once tingled at the thought of President Bernie Sanders, she’s off base. The Republicans who signed onto her bill generally did so in the belief it gives the government the power to ensure “Big Tech” plays fair with conservatives. It doesn’t, and letting federal bureaucrats determine what to censor online would be worse.

The legislation would also make life more difficult for social media companies the Democrats have allied with in pursuit of election victories. The framework her legislation would erect would take a big bite out of the hand that feeds her. - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Will your money last as long as you do? Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - We all hope for long, healthy lives. But there’s a serious “side effect” of longevity – the possibility of outliving our money. How can you help prevent this?

It’s useful to know the seriousness of the threat. Consider this: About 41% of all U.S. homes in which the head of the household is between 35 and 64 are projected to run short of money in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

While this statistic indicates a cause for concern, it certainly doesn’t mean that you are necessarily headed for trouble – because there’s a lot you can do to help build and manage enough resources to last a lifetime. Here are a few suggestions:

• Consider your estimated longevity. On average, a 65-year-old man can expect to live another 17 years, while a 65-year-old woman can anticipate about 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of course, you’ll want to take into account your health and family history of longevity to arrive at a reasonable estimate. You can then use this figure to help determine how much money you’ll eventually need. To play it safe, you might even want to try to build an income stream that can last beyond your estimated lifespan, possibly up to age 90. - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022


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Gravina access By Chris J. Herby - I am writing on a subject that I have written about before and that I believe is extremely important to our community. As I returned home from a recent trip, I was hugely impressed with the progress that is being made with the airport ferry ramps, waiting shelters, and enormous parking lot. The lighted welcome sign that greets you as you get off the ferry gives an immediate positive impression of Ketchikan. The design and construction of the new facilities appears to be of the highest quality. These are truly fantastic improvements for our community.

I also understand that plans are underway to expand and improve the airport terminal. This will bring more great improvements to welcome our visitors as well as improve traveling for our local community.

Unfortunately, with all of these great improvements that are occurring, I have not heard anything about solving the enormous problem of getting traffic back and forth from the airport.

When I arrived back to Ketchikan earlier this week, there were many people in vehicles picking up arriving passengers at the airport. After waiting about 20 minutes for the ferry to arrive, only about half of the vehicles were able to get on the ferry. The remaining vehicles had to wait another 30 minutes and hope to be able to get on the ferry. My thought was, what would people think if they had to wait an hour to drive away from the Seattle airport after arrival? How can we possibly be talking about expanding our terminal due to anticipated increased passenger traffic but not be figuring out how to get traffic to and from the airport?

Ten years ago there were 2 ferries operating during the busy times. How could it have been needed then and not now? A ferry every 15 minutes instead of every 30 would certainly help alleviate the problem. - More..
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

jpg Opinion

Tax Day and the fate of the Earth By Michael Carrigan and Peter Bergel - Once again we are all paying our federal income taxes this month. We do this as “the price of civilization” – to pay for the services we value and rely upon – disaster relief, help during the pandemic, wildfire protection, food security, a host of others and… nuclear weapons?

What part of civilization to they represent? Just who exactly is helped by nuclear weapons? The current situation in Ukraine shows clearly that the old excuse - they deter the aggressive inclinations of other nations - is not valid. It also shows that – far from providing security – their presence in the hands of the Russians is preventing the NATO nations from protecting Ukrainians from attack. 

Polls repeatedly show that most Americans would prefer the elimination of nuclear weapons by all nations. Why then, in a country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” are we still shelling out tens of billions every year for these death machines that we do not want? Why are we not joining much of the rest of the world in signing the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Behind and beneath all the security rhetoric lies the truth. If we “follow the money,” we can see it immediately. 

A small number of large corporations are getting fabulously wealthy by creating and building these weapons. In order to guard their money machine, they make large contributions to the campaigns of congress people, especially those who sit on key committees, and hire lobbyists by the hundreds to swarm the halls of Congress. If anyone gets off the bus, they insinuate that s/he is “soft on defense,” an accusation that sends most lawmakers and presidents scurrying for cover. In addition, the contractors spread out their operations to bring government spending into as many congressional districts as possible. In this way, they persuade us that nuclear weapons are at least inevitable and indispensable, and perhaps even desirable in the “real world.” Those of us who seek their elimination are dismissed as misty-eyed dreamers.  - More...
Thursday PM - April 14, 2022

jpg Opinion

Transgender men competing in women's sports By Rob Holston - itle IX: " No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

It’s been a lot of years since 1972 when Title IX became law. It’s been good for sports and good for girls. It’s probably the main reason why we can enjoy such a high level of athleticism and performance during the women’s Final Four. Adidas Corp however interrupts this good news story with an advertisement that flies in the face of Title IX and all girls everywhere. - More...
Thursday PM - April 07, 2022

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