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Alaska Steps Up Pressure To Protect Transboundary Watersheds

Will Patric : Nov 16.2017

On November 15 a letter was sent from the State of Alaska and its congressional delegation to the U.S. State Department. It requests federal help confronting “potential catastrophic effects on Alaska communities” from proposed BC mining activities. This is the first such request formally submitted jointly by Alaska’s Senators, its Representative, and its Governor. That this has happened reflects the unprecedented degree of transboundary watershed interest and concern now so prevalent downstream relative to potential upstream mining development.

The letter also highlights Tulsequah Chief as a prime example of why federal engagement is crucial for transboundary watershed stewardship. The abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine on Alaska’s doorstep (the old mine, as opposed to the extremely controversial new Tulsequah Chief proposal) has been discharging toxic acidic water into the Taku watershed for sixty years despite multiple calls from Alaska for the cross border pollution to end. With state – provincial engagement spurring no action, federal level involvement is clearly needed for the Taku and likewise to set standards safeguarding the transboundary Iskut-Stikine and Unuk watersheds as well.

The letter and a Rivers Without Borders press release about it are linked here: RWB release on joint transboundary letter and Signed AK Delegation Letter to Secretary Tillerson

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