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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 16, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By SELENA JACKSON

Ascent of the Sun
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Southeast Alaska: Federal Government Asked for Help in Addressing Transboundary Mining Concerns - The Alaska Congressional Delegation has joined together with the State of Alaska to urge U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to address the downstream risks that mining in British Columbia may pose to Southeast Alaskan communities and habitats surrounding transboundary rivers.

The joint letter emphasized the “potential catastrophic effects on Alaska’s communities” from upstream mining activities in British Columbia (B.C.) and urged the U.S. federal government to “help protect overall U.S. interests in this situation.” The letter also called the Tulsequah Chief “an example of an inadequate response by the B.C. government.”

Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott wrote a letter to Secretary Tillerson, seeking his Department’s engagement in their efforts to ensure that British Columbia institutes appropriate safeguards to prevent potential negative effects from the development of large-scale hard rock mine proposals and operations to transboundary waterways and fisheries.

Additionally, the Delegation requested B.C. mining projects and potential impacts to Alaska be included on the agenda for upcoming bilateral meetings between the U.S. Department of State and Global Affairs Canada: “We, like this administration, prioritize the promotion and protection of American economic interests, which in this instance could be threatened by B.C. transboundary mining and inadequate financial mechanisms to assure long term management of toxic wastes and redress for damages from potential releases.”

“Alaskans are out of patience with B.C.’s failure to stop the pollution from the abandoned Tulsequah Chief. B.C.’s failure to clean up the mine is a clear example of why Alaska and the U.S. federal government need to work together to ensure upstream mining in B.C. doesn’t harm our interests downstream,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders.

Zimmer said, “We are glad to see the State of Alaska now working with members of Congress, and hopefully the State Department, to increase pressure on B.C. to honor its responsibilities and promises to remediate the abandoned mine. Today’s letter is an important step in increasing pressure on B.C. However experience has shown us that continued cooperative pressure will be needed to ensure B.C. honors its responsibilities at Tulsequah Chief.”

The Tulsequah Chief mine, located in the Taku River watershed in northwest B.C. close to the Alaska border, was abandoned in 1957 without any remediation. B.C. has wanted a new company to re-open the mine and then clean it up, but two companies have already gone bankrupt trying to re-open the mine and B.C. has done little to stop the illegal pollution. An Aquatic Ecological Risk Assessment released by the B.C. government on July 18 documents “unacceptable risks” from the acid mine drainage. 

“After two bankruptcies, it’s clear the Tulsequah Chief is not a viable mine,” said Zimmer. “The only way to stop the illegal and clearly harmful acid mine drainage from the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine into the salmon-rich Taku watershed is for B.C. to take responsibility for mine cleanup. The new B.C. government needs to take a much more responsible approach with Tulsequah Chief than the previous Clark administration. We’re glad to see Alaska leaders stepping up the pressure on B.C. and Canada.”

Today’s broad concerns about B.C. mining across the transboundary Taku, Stikine and Unuk watersheds began with the Tulsequah Chief in the late 1990’s. 

“The experience with Tulsequah Chief shows us that Alaska needs specific and enforceable protections to ensure that upstream mining in B.C. does not harm our water quality, fisheries and livelihoods,” said Zimmer. “We don’t want to see similar problems crop up at mines that will be much larger than Tulsequah Chief, such as KSM. It is vital that the U.S. government heed the call in today’s letter to join with Alaska leaders to develop measures to protect our fish, water and jobs from upstream mining in B.C.”

The Alaska Delegation's letter stressed the need for communication between the U.S. and Canada on this issue, for Alaskans’ livelihoods and Alaska’s economic stability, but also to industrial development and job security across the entire nation: “Alaska’s economy and culture are directly connected to our natural resources, many of which are nurtured by our vast river systems throughout the state. The Alsek, Chilkat, Taku, Whiting, Stikine, Unuk, Salmon, and Chickamin Watersheds drain from B.C. into Southeast Alaska.  Increasing mineral development and legacy mining impacts in the Taku, Stikine and Unuk Watersheds threaten Alaska’s world-renowned salmon runs, which support the commercial fishing and visitor industries and contribute to the way of life for Alaskans throughout the region.” - More....
Thursday PM - November 16, 2017

Southeast Alaska:
Thousands of additional acres opened to Petersburg Borough for economic, resource development -  Governor Bill Walker today signed legislation to help increase economic and resource development opportunities in the Petersburg Borough. When the Petersburg Borough was created by the voters in 2013 they had only received 1,896 acres, of which roughly 450 had already been given to the City of Petersburg. With passage of the SB 28, the Petersburg Borough is now on equal-footing with the state’s other 18 organized boroughs across the State of Alaska. SB 28, sponsored by Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), rectifies this situation by increasing the Petersburg Borough’s land entitlement to 14,666 acres.

“Given our state’s fiscal climate, it is critical that we give our local communities and boroughs the necessary tools to be as economically sustainable and self-sufficient as possible,” Governor Walker said.

Walker said, “This bill does exactly that, allowing the Petersburg Borough to take full advantage of potential development opportunities in the region, and help build a Stronger Alaska. I thank Senator Bert Stedman for sponsoring this legislation, and Mayor Jensen and Representatives Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and Sam Kito for supporting it.”

“The Petersburg Borough will now have more control over its destiny,” said Sen. Stedman. “The folks in Petersburg will select land they can use for economic development as well as rock and sand material sites for future projects, waterfront land for tourism development, residential lots, and other uses that will allow Petersburg to grow and become even more self-sufficient.” - More...
Thursday PM - November 16, 2017

Alaska: Alaska Maritime Training Center Receives $95,000 Donation from Andeavor - The AVTEC Alaska Maritime Training Center announced Wednesday that it received a donation of $95,000 from the refining, marketing and logistics company Andeavor. The donation will support AVTEC’s arctic and ice navigation readiness project, which will upgrade the school’s full mission bridge ship simulator to enhance its ice navigation capabilities.

The donation was prompted by a two-day training event sponsored by Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) and hosted at AVTEC’s Alaska Maritime Training Center. The event provided more than thirty ship masters and pilots the opportunity to hone their skills in navigating the ice-covered waters of Cook Inlet.

The licensed deck officers participated in ten training scenarios navigating through ice in Cook Inlet that was programmed into the Alaska Maritime Training Center’s three interactive full mission bridge ship simulators. It was during this training event that Andeavor announced the gift, which will be directed at enhancing the bridge simulators through an upgrade of hardware and software. - More...
Thursday PM - November 16, 2017



Alaska Science: Beavers slapping tails on far-north waters By NED ROZELL - Animals the size of Labrador retrievers are changing the face of Alaska, creating new ponds visible from space.

A poplar tree cut by a beaver helps secure a canoe on the upper Tanana River.
Photo by Ned Rozell

“These guys leave a mark,” University of Alaska Fairbanks ecologist Ken Tape said of North America’s largest rodents, beavers. He has observed the recent work of beavers north of the Arctic Circle using satellite images. He and a group of Arctic researchers have found the creatures have somehow colonized the tundra of northwestern Alaska, damming more than 50 streams there since 1999.

Beavers live in every province of Canada, every U.S. state and parts of northern Mexico. Range maps now need to be redrawn to include areas north of tree line in Alaska and Canada.

Tape authored a photo book on shrub expansion in the Arctic and has written papers about moose and snowshoe hares appearing north of the Brooks Range. Beavers, he said, are a logical migrant to a warming North.

“It’s kind of the next wildlife you’d expect in tundra, but with much bigger implications,” he said.

With their dams and new lakes that hold warmish water, beavers of the tundra ecosystem are thawing permafrost soils through their actions. Beavers could be “priming Arctic streams for the establishment of salmon runs” that now don’t exist, maybe because extreme northern waters are too cold for egg development.

Tape and co-authors Ben Jones, Chris Arp, Ingmar Nitze, Guido Grosse and Christian Zimmerman are writing about those changes in a paper with the working title, “Tundra Be Dammed: Beaver Colonization of the Arctic.”- More...
Thursday PM - November 16, 2017


Columns - Commentary



MONEY MATTERS: ARE YOU IN THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS OR NOT? By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - Do you consider yourself wealthy? Affluent? Poor? Or would middle class be more accurate? The majority of Americans, when asked, say that they believe they are middle class, which suggests that they think their degree of wealth, or lack of it, makes them middle class. The problem in getting an answer is whether you define your wealth by income or by net worth. And what is “wealth” anyway? It sounds like it refers to riches, but it does not.

When surveyed, very few people respond that they feel “wealthy”, even if their incomes are 3 or 4 times the national average. People learning $200,000- $400,000 per year routinely say that they are not “wealthy”, so clearly, the definition of the word is an issue when counting who is and who is not part of the American middle class.

When we refer to our wealth, we are talking about our financial status. This includes our earned income from work, investments and property plus our retirement income from pensions, Social Security and other sources of retirement income. It also includes the value of all of our assets, such as our home, rental property, retirement plans, investment portfolio and other valuable things we own. This wealth may be a big number or a small number, but it is all wealth to some degree. So, even if you do not feel wealthy, you probably do have some wealth. Unless you own absolutely nothing and have absolutely no income, you have wealth of some amount. Compared to the rest of the world in particular, almost everyone in the US (and other western nations) is wealthy, in fact. But I digress here. The question isn’t how you compare to Zimbabwe or Pakistan. The question is how you compare to other Americans

Studies abound on this subject, so there is no lack of information. The problem is that it is confusing and not entirely consistent. Most studies, however, do fall into similar ranges of numbers when it comes to income and net worth, the primary determinants of wealth in America. The results do show that about half of Americans are middle class households, and of that 50% of households, but the middle class range of wealth has grown to a much wider range than it used to be. It has expanded to 3 levels of middle class, not just one, and reflects a growing layer of affluence on the higher income of the middle class. - More...
Thursday PM - November 16, 2017

jpg Political Cartoon: Roy Moore

Political Cartoon: Roy Moore
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

American Flag By A. M. Johnson - What was the more most exciting and memorable vision for this American citizen on Veterans Day? Without a doubt it was the number of young members of our society running, walking with large American flags on the edge of North Tongass highway. What a thrill to meet these young folks proudly holding the flag, waving it in response to the horn honking, the smiles and cheerful waves they offered to passing motorist, I among them. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Veterans Day 2017 By Dan Weber - The world was a dangerous place during World War I.  It was even more dangerous during World War II.  And, it was frightening enough during the Cold War that ensued.  Then came the Korean War and Viet Nam.  And, now our valiant soldiers are maimed and die in far away deserts and barren lands as we seek to stem the threat posed by Jihad. - More...
Saturday PM - November 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

In observance of Veterans Day By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Ninety-nine years ago today, the guns fell silent on the Western Front in Europe, marking the end of World War I. The armistice with Germany had come into effect. Over nine million soldiers were killed in World War I, and another twenty-one million were wounded. After more than four years of warfare marked by death in casualty counts never before seen in modern warfare, the fighting stopped. Armistice Day later became known as Veteran’s Day, when Americans take time to reflect on the myriad of sacrifices made by our soldiers. - More...
Sataurday PM - Nvember 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Emergency Room Medical Costs in Ketchikan By Mike Carney - Ketchikan Gateway Borough Residents: From time to time you hear of important issues in the town we live in, this is an issue you should all be aware of. If you have had the unfortunate occasion to visit our emergency room facility at PeaceHealth, it will add insult to injury when you get all the bills. I will tell you my story. I was out hunting and scraped my eye on an alder branch. I tried to wait it out until I could get to the eye doctor. That didn’t happen and I ended up in the emergency room early the next morning. I was dealt with in an orderly fashion and I saw a doctor that I had seen many times before. He is local and works for PeaceHealth. I was there about 40 minutes and I was thankful it was such a quick turnaround. - More...
Thursday PM - November 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Criminal Reform By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Earlier this week, the Alaska State House passed Senate Bill 54, “Crime and Sentencing,” with 32 yes votes and 8 nays. Broadly speaking, SB 54 is a partial repeal of SB 91, which was passed last year. Although I did not vote for SB91 at the time, there are some aspects of that criminal reform bill that are worth keeping, for example: programs like pre-trial services and tougher sentences on murder and rape. However, SB 54 makes some necessary changes to SB 91, which I’ve briefly outlined below: - More...
Tuesday PM - November 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

THE PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY OF GOD By David G Hanger - Down the road here three dozen miles or so some moron walked into a Baptist church and killed 26 people including 14 children. About 18 hours after the event, i.e. in time for the Monday morning talk shows and news shows it had been labeled “the worst mass killing in a place of worship in the history of the United States.” Within four hours of the event the governor of the state of Texas arrived on the scene and politicized it, then introduced his entourage who each had their little speech to give, followed by first responders, who once again grandiosely performed janitorial services. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

150 years of the Army in Alaska By Capt. Richard Packer - I recently attended the 150-year commemoration of the transfer of Alaska, previously known as Russian America, from tsarist Russia to the United States. The original ceremony occurred in Sitka (New Archangel while under Russian rule) on October 18, 1867, and just like the modern ceremony, the U.S. Army was present for the first ceremony. - More....
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Governor Walker’s Tax Proposal Would Create a Regressive Nightmare By Ghert Abbott - Governor Walker is right to champion a broad-based tax, as the only alternative to new revenue is the continued depletion of our state’s savings and further cuts to education, public health, law enforcement, and infrastructure. However, it is essential that any broad-based tax be fairly distributed and take into consideration the sacrifices that ordinary Alaskans have already made with the halving of the PFD. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

TAX POLICY IN THE LAND OF OZ By David G Hanger - I realize that only you, the Christian ayatollahs and mullahs of Ketchikan, and your inordinate knowledge and profundity gleaned only in some instances from divinity or seminary school, are the true arbiters of speech, thought, association, and fact, on any subject under the sun, and that you and your spies will continue working in the dark to ensure no one regresses from your expected norm. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting Regulations By Chas Edwardson - Recently I asked on this forum if anyone has heard about stricter hunting regulations for non federally qualified hunters on Prince of Wales Island. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: It’s Past Time to Achieve Parity Regarding State Education Funding By Chris Elliott - Mr. Bockhorst hits the nail on the head. - Finis...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Lost fortunes and other dividend crimes By A. M. Johnson - Shocked,I am shocked to think our legislature realizing the results of action this article brings out, had no idea the projected action to extract funds from the Permanent Fund would result in this fiscal loss. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting on POW! By Frances C. Natkong - To you who come to our island to hunt to kill senselessly we have to live here no matter how much you spend coming here. You kill our deer and bear that we live off all year. I've seen deer and bear carcasses with the bear hides gone and the antlers gone all trophy hunters. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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