With the new government in British Columbia, now is the time to speak up, be heard, and protect our rivers! Here are some ways that we can address the threat of mines on our transboundary rivers and take action to make sure that our communities continue to thrive.
3 Ways to Address the Threat of Transboundary Mines
Invoke International Joint Commission(IJC) Under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The Boundary Waters Treaty has over 100 years of history resolving disputes over development in transboundary regions. An IJC is the only overarching body of both U.S. and Canadian officials that can recommend actions to be sure both nations are protected. To invoke and IJC the federal government must take action. To this end SEACC along with Alaska Native and other conservation groups have asked for Secretary of State Tillerson to work with Canada to elevate this issue to the IJC. Our congressional delegation, many communities, Tribes and hundreds of individuals have requested this action. Only the Governor’s office has refused to make this request. Write Governor Walker and tell him to stand with the Alaska delegation and ask Secretary Tillerson to protect our rivers, not mining interests
- Add the Chilkat River to the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding. In response to the threat of mines on transboundary rivers, in 2015 Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with then B.C. Premier Christy Clark. This MOU and the Statement of Cooperation that followed created the Bilateral Working Group on the Protection of Transboundary Waters to facilitate communication and cooperation on transboundary issues, including mining. Noticeably missing from this discussion was the Chilkat River near Haines, Alaska, one the transboundary rivers identified by the state of Alaska.
Historically the conversation around transboundary mines has focused on rivers in the south like the Taku, Unuk, and Stikine, where numerous mines in various stages of exploration, development, and production threaten downstream water quality in Alaska. The primary threat to the Chilkat River is the proposed Palmer Project, owned by a Canadian company and located on the U.S. side of the border, but other mines in B.C. and the Yukon threaten it as well. To the north of Haines, the community of Skagway is debating whether to close the terminal used to load ore onto ships in order to make room for more cruise ships. This means that the ore and concentrate from Canadian mines could be trucked down the Haines highway adjacent to the Chilkat and Klehini Rivers to be shipped overseas. An ore loading facility will have to be built in Haines and may contaminate the bay just as the one in Skagway has. It is important that these potential impacts are anticipated and addressed by the Bilateral Working Group.
- What you can do: Write Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Mallott and ask for increased transparency and allow citizens the right to review documents submitted by B.C. Become vocal and involved with all Southeast Alaskans to fight off the worst of these megamine projects, together.
- Who takes action: We do! Your voice is critical. Regional conservation organizations, fishing associations, municipalities, Tribal organizations and private citizens all have the ability to come together and go after the megamine projects that threaten our lives and livelihoods
- What it is: a campaign to educate ourselves and one another about the threat posed by these mines, and to define and work the tools available to protect our lifestyle.
- Why it’s an important tool: international mining interests do not want any restrictions even if they protect citizens and they are lobbying hard. The investors who allow mines to be developed shy away from projects that are controversial, or that look like they could face loud, vocal communities.
- How we get it done: We organize! Online and in-person engagement, letters to the editor, letters to our representatives here and in DC demanding that our community health is considered above the interests of mining corporations.
- Support SEACC. Donate today to ensure that we continue fighting these megamine projects today and into the future.