Water, Art, and Activism
WHAT ARE WE FOLLOWING?
Art that Draws Connections: Titled Sound and Silence, the upcoming issue of Alaska Women Speak includes two pieces that draw connections between human vulnerability and that of the earth. The companion pieces come from Katie Craney (artist, advocate for the Chilkat Watershed, and SEACC Board member) and Janine Allen (Haines resident and longtime advocate for the Chilkat Watershed). Janine is hearing impaired and learned that her hearing aid batteries are composed primarily from zinc, one of the four minerals being explored by the Constantine-Palmer mining project upstream of the Chilkat Valley and towns of Klukwan and Haines. In her piece, she reflects on her hearing loss and the controversial mine, drawing connections between her ear canal and the mining adit or tunnel. Katie’s companion visual art piece incorporates Janine’s hearing aid batteries, beach trash, construction waste, found slide film and bullet shell casings, Icelandic sheep’s wool, fish leather, images from a Bering Sea beach and wax, all on hand-cut scrap metal.
This powerful work can be found in the Fall 2019 edition of Alaska Women Speak.
Recently Senator Lisa Murkowski wrote an Opinion Editorial in the Washington Post praising President Trump's desire to exempt the Tongass National Forest from National Roadless Rule protections.
We asked SEACC's Grassroots Attorney Buck Lindekugel, who has worked to conserve valuable resources on the Tongass since 1988, to fact check Senator Murkowski's editorial paragraph by paragraph. It's wonky but the facts don't lie.
The Toxic Water Crisis Caused by PFAS
WHAT ARE WE FOLLOWING?
State and Local Government Responses to PFAS: Most of the PFAS contamination in Alaska is found in the groundwater near airports that use Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) for firefighting. The state of Alaska tests communities with certified airports where PFAS-containing AFFF was used and likely entered the groundwater. These communities include Fairbanks, North Pole, Eieslon, Utqiagvik, Dillingham, Gustavus, Yakutat, Galena and King Salmon. If your community is not on this list, it doesn’t mean the groundwater isn’t contaminated. The local governments of other communities that have a possibility of contamination, such as Juneau, are also conducting groundwater testing. Juneau’s results are expected in a couple weeks. ADEC has published a list of labs approved for PFAS testing in drinking water for any communities or individuals conducting testing on their own.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has reduced their standards for PFAS testing and protections. This will leave us at higher risk for PFAS exposure and health impacts, despite increasing knowledge of this widespread, emerging problem.
I’m pleased to share an exciting new partnership for SEACC! This weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will be announcing that the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is joining the federation as its Alaska affiliate! The National Wildlife Federation is an 83-year-old national conservation organization that for the better part of a century has sought to give wildlife a voice and a vote, while simultaneously working to unite Americans from all walks of life around the common cause of conservation.Read more
Yesterday, American Rivers announced the ten Most Endangered Rivers of 2019. Featured prominently on this list, for the first time, are two iconic and highly important rivers of Southeast Alaska – the Chilkat and the Stikine. Both rivers are facing social, environmental, economic, and health impacts from mining. Yet, both rivers are critical to the communities, salmon, and wildlife that depend on them.
Youth in Action
WHAT ARE WE FOLLOWING?
Youth-led Movements for Climate Action: On March 15th, youth across the globe left school to take to the streets in demand of action on climate change. They were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who had been sitting on the steps of Swedish parliament alone every Friday since September to protest inaction on climate change. Teens in other countries began to join her in the Friday school strikes, from Columbia, to Australia, to Poland, and the United States.
Alexandria Villaseñor, a 13-year-old in New York, joined the movement in December by sitting on a bench across from the entrance to the United Nations each Friday, after hearing about Greta’s weekly strikes in Sweden. Soon after, 12-year-old Haven Coleman in Denver, Colorado, and 16-year-old Irsa Hirsi in Minneapolis, Minnesota joined Alexandria, forming a US organizing team.
They helped to plan the US locations for the March 15th global school strike that saw youth from more than 123 countries join Greta to let adults and governments know that they refuse to accept any more excuses and to demand immediate action on the climate crisis. Third graders in Gustavus, AK also joined the strike. And just last week, students from Juneau-Douglass High School: Yadaa.at Kalé joined the movement as well, taking to the steps of the state capital on Friday. This growing movement has become known as #FridaysForFuture. Learn more here.
We have exciting news this spring: SEACC is moving! In the last few years, our ranks have grown along with our program work. So, like fledgling robins in spring, we have gradually outgrown our nest at 224 Gold Street and are taking flight to new digs!
This past week we closed on a bright, airy, spacious new office space at 2207 Jordan Avenue in Jordan Creek, near the airport in Juneau.Read more
The Power of Collective Action
We're trying something new! Once a month, we'll be sharing three things that are catching our attention on water-related topics throughout Southeast Alaska and beyond, highlighting policies (What are we following?), actions (What are we doing?), and people or groups that inspire us (What are we learning?). We hope you enjoy our new series, Water Currents. We’d appreciate hearing your feedback and ideas for topics you’d like us to cover.Read more
On Friday, January 25th , southeastern Brazil experienced yet another catastrophic mining disaster. The tailings dam at the Corrego do Feijao Mine, an iron ore mine owned by Vale (one of the world’s largest mining companies), breached and spilled 13 million cubic meters of toxic waste that covered downstream villages and spread into the Paraopeba River. More than 60 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds are still missing.Read more
On Wednesday, December 5th, the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), which represents 15 sovereign Tribal Nations from Southeast Alaska, submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stating that the unfettered mine development in British Columbia violates the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.