by Shoren Brown
A judge has ruled that the state of Alaska will have to defend "its rationale for how it re-designated land use in the Bristol Bay region nearly a decade ago." The AP reports on the settlement of a lawsuit challenging how the state reclassified land at the head waters of Bristol Bay in 2005, when it removed important species and habitat designations to clear the way for mining development. Plaintiffs’ attorney Geoffery Parker said the changes "border on scandalous."
The agreement "calls on the state to make a number of revisions and reclassifications, including adding caribou and moose considerations to the list of criteria used to identify sensitive habitats and revising the definition of recreation to include sport hunting and fishing. The department also is to reclassify as wildlife habitat the spawning and rearing areas of navigable anadromous waters."
A former senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory delivers a scathing critique of Pebble CEO John Shively's remarks on tailings dams. Shively said Pebble must convince people "we can monitor in perpetuity, or we won't get a permit." Donald G. Schweitzer disputes the entire concept. He writes: "How do you determine the cost of a process maintained 'in perpetuity'? How can anyone defend such a plan? How can anyone accept such a plan? How did a conceptual impossibility become a permit requirement? Why is the elephant in the room invisible to everyone? Why do the regulators and opponents not argue that an impossible claim by an applicant who does not deserve the time and expense of a permit hearing?"
Last week, Politico ran a strong ad from sportsmen across the country, pushing the President to protect Bristol Bay. "The Science is in. The Time is now." On the same day, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay ran an ad in The Hill asking the president to protect 7000 fishing jobs and an entire industry from the threat of Pebble mine.
Finally, a new report on commercial fishing shows a record harvest across the country, with Alaska leading all states by far in catch volume, at 5.4 billion pounds.
Shoren Brown is the Save Bristol Bay campaign director for Trout Unlimited.