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

The sign in front of the Homer Electric Association building in Kenai, Alaska, as seen on April 1, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
HEA rates to increase Jan. 1

The cooperative’s last rate increase took effect in April 2020

AP Photo/Erin Hooley
An eight-week-old sea otter rescued from Seldovia, Alaska, peaks out of his enclosure at Shedd Aquarium Wednesday, Dec. 6 in Chicago. The otter was found alone and malnourished and was taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward which contacted Shedd, and the Chicago aquarium was able to take the otter in. He will remain quarantined for a few months while he learns to groom and eat solid foods before being introduced to Shedd’s five other sea otters.
Seldovia sea otter pup has a new home at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium

The northern sea otter was found alone and malnourished and taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

Students from Nikiski Middle/High School and Kenai Middle School join Jesse Bjorkman, Ken Felchle and volunteers from the Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Safari Club International on an educational moose hunt in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Photo provided by Jesse Bjorkman)
Lessons in big game hunting

Students learn to ethically and responsibly harvest a moose and process its meat for food

Cook Inletkeeper Energy Policy Analyst Ben Boettger presents information about retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Inletkeeper turns focus to energy for next community climate solution

The meeting marked the official kickoff of Cook Inletkeeper’s fourth installment in its local solution series

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Woman arrested after allegedly shooting neighbor’s house

The woman had been trying to break up a dog fight, troopers said

A pie chart shows Kenai Peninsula Borough School District expenditures by object for the current fiscal year. (Chart via KPBSD)
Explanation of how KPBSD organizes funds caps ‘Budget 101’ series

Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes delivered the presentation to school board members during a Monday work session

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, answers questions from constituents during a legislative update at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ruffridge predicts school funding, energy security will be top issues in Juneau next session

Ruffridge has represented District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, in the Alaska House of Representatives since October 2022

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meet on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
New school board group will study 4-day school week

The group will meet regularly until next July, when committee members will present their findings to the full board

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Advisory committee supports protections for lake trout and king salmon

Advisory committee recommendations will be weighed by the State Board of Fisheries alongside public testimony as they deliberate on each proposal

Most Read