On May 12 the full Alaska Congressional delegation sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting federal government engagement, including consideration of an International Joint Commission (IJC) convening, focused on BC headwaters development concerns. Downstream Alaska tribes, commercial fishermen, and communities have been calling for this for many months, and it is heartening to see elected officials at this level responding this way. Of course the letter is only one notable step in a long journey toward safeguarding the ecological and cultural values of transboundary watersheds, but it’s a big one. Please find the letter and related U.S. and Canadian press below.
On a separate but related matter, it’s noteworthy that an editorial was published by the Juneau Empire: Empire Editorial_ Deja vu over mining mess _ Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper just a few days later saying enough is enough with regard to ongoing acid mine drainage into the Taku watershed at the site of the proposed Tulsequah Chief mine. The company behind the contentious project is violating its permit, and BC has failed, for many years, to do anything about it. Making this connection between Tulsequah Chief and BC’s failed mining oversight (likewise echoed by the recent BC Auditor General’s findings) has made the push for the sort of international, indigenous, and scientific engagement the IJC could offer more than an exercise toward improving watershed stewardship. It’s critical if we are to bring about ecosystem based watershed planning and decision making with enforceable standards essential to keeping the transboundary watersheds intact and thriving.