Voices of Alaska: Stand for Salmon would hurt Alaska

  • By JIM JANSEN
  • Monday, May 21, 2018 11:19am
  • Opinion

I love salmon, but I care deeply about Alaska too. That’s why I oppose the salmon initiative that could be on the November statewide ballot.

I doubt that there is anyone in Alaska who wants to protect salmon more than me. Transporting salmon, by aircraft, barges and trucks is a major part of our business, and sport fishing is my favorite pastime.

Fishing has been and will continue to be a mainstay of Alaska’s economy and way of life for most Alaskans.

The proponents of the Stand for Salmon ballot measure want you to believe their proposal is just about protecting salmon, that it won’t hinder development. If that were truly the case, I would support the measure but, unfortunately, once again, outside groups are trying to stop development, kill jobs and destroy Alaska.

The Stand for Salmon initiative would make it extremely expensive and difficult for any type of development or community project. Whether it’s building a mine, repairing or building roads, developing an oil field on the North Slope or building a home, this initiative would be a major permitting impediment.

We need to protect our unique and cherished ecosystems, especially in areas like Bristol Bay that rely so heavily on commercial and sport fishing industries. Many Alaskans were led to believe this would stop the Pebble Mine, but the initiative goes way beyond stopping one project in Alaska. Instead, it negatively impacts all resource development. This is a broad effort to attack Alaska statewide, and that’s why I decided to join the effort to defeat the initiative before it destroys our state.

The fish habitat ballot measure would cripple many industries by adding layers of unnecessary rules and regulations that would serve only to slow down or stop development and community projects, large and small. Building roads or runways in rural Alaska is already an expensive undertaking. Piling burdensome regulations onto those projects makes them harder to fund, if they are funded at all.

Fortunately, once Alaskans find out the true meaning and purpose of this ballot measure, they are speaking out against it. Alaska’s attorney general, Jahna Lindemuth, said the measure “would have the effect of categorically blocking certain mines, dams, roads and pipelines.” The Laborers and Teamsters unions oppose the measure because it would cause statewide job loss. Aaron Schutt, the president of Doyon, an Alaska Native regional corporation, said “there will not be another significant project built in rural Alaska if this initiative passes.”

Once again, Alaska needs to rally against an ill-conceived ballot measure that will be a huge roadblock to our state’s economy. Stand for Alaska is the name of an impressive coalition of businesses, Native organizations and individual Alaskans who love salmon but care about Alaska too. Lynden is a proud member of this group and we will help push back on the false narrative that Alaskans must choose between development and habitat protection. We can have both and have for many years.

For more information about our coalition and the ballot measure, visit standforak.com.

If the Alaska Supreme Court allows this ballot measure on the general election ballot this November, I am firmly voting no, and I encourage my fellow Alaskans to do the same.

Jim Jansen is the chairman of shipping company Lynden Inc. and a supporter of Stand for Alaska.

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