Alaska, British Columbia leaders sigh cooperative agreement

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, November 25, 2015 11:50pm
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a cooperative agreement Wednesday committing to work together on issues of shared interest, including addressing concerns about the effect of Canadian mining on waters flowing into Alaska.

The memorandum of understanding calls for a working group comprised of state and provincial officials that would, among other things, work to develop and implement a joint water-quality monitoring program and set up a means of sharing information.

Bill Bennett, the province’s minister of energy and mines, called the agreement momentous. While it’s not legally binding, he said having the leaders of two jurisdictions sign a document saying they’ll cooperate in a certain way carries a lot of importance.

“We actually have time here to gather baseline information and to develop the right protocols between the two jurisdictions long before we have any sort of rampant or comprehensive mine development in the northwest part of our province,” he said. Alaska’s government has asked for comments from interested parties on a document that will flesh out terms of the memorandum related to trans-boundary waters. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said the state will share its ideas with provincial officials so they can continue the conversation in Canada.

Chris Zimmer, Alaska campaign director for Rivers Without Borders, said the draft document that’s been circulated is flawed and lacks specific binding commitments. Heather Hardcastle, director of the Salmon Beyond Borders campaign, said by that working out the memorandum of understanding, the state seems to be conceding this is a local issue. The campaign has advocated for an international commission to review the planned mine developments and how they could affect Alaska’s downstream waters. Requests for an international commission’s involvement must come from the national governments. Bennett said British Columbia would only seek the involvement of an international commission if it became “next to impossible” to deal with the state.

“We’re actually moving in the opposite direction from that,” he said. “We’re cooperating, and we’re being respectful.”

Mallott, who works on trans-boundary water issues within Walker’s administration, said the agreement is neutral on the possibility of an international commission’s involvement. As long as British Columbia is permitting mines, it’s incumbent upon the state to be as engaged as possible to protect its interest in the water quality and environmental integrity, he said.

The agreement included other provisions, such as continuing cooperation on tourism promotion and working to promote marine transportation safety and reliability.


More in News

Alaska Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor in Juneau, Alaska, on March 5, 2020. Alaska lawmakers are discussing whether to sanction Eastman who is also a member of the Oath Keepers far-right paramilitary organization according to the Anchorage Daily News. Eastman, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, confirmed with the Associated Press, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that he joined the Oath Keepers a little over 12 years ago, “along with 38,000 others who have committed to honoring oaths we have taken.” (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
State lawmaker could be sanctioned over Oath Keeper ties

Eastman was identified as a “life member” of the Oath Keepers last year

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
As cases surge, public health officials contemplate how to live with virus

Contact tracing and data collection will have to be reworked if COVID is here to stay

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via
Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney, bottom left, spoke to UA students in a virtual forum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, and was joined by several UA administrators including UA Southeast President Karen Carey, bottom left, and UA Anchorage Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz, top left. At top right, an American Sign Language professional provides translation services. (Screenshot)
UA President: University has turned a corner on funding

System sees modest increase in budget for first time in years

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Most Read