Sponsors of a controversial ballot initiative that aims to strengthen state law protecting salmon habitat say its been certified by the Alaska Division of Elections.
The Yes for Salmon initiative reports it received close to 42,000 signatures, significantly more than required. The initiative will appear on the ballot either during the primary election in August or the general election in November, depending on whether the Legislature ends its session on time.
“Economic development is necessary, but protecting salmon habitat is too,” Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, Yes for Salmon ballot sponsor and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said in a statement. “Promoting responsible development is something we can control and is the most important proactive step we can take to keep our runs strong. And now we officially have the chance to vote on this critical issue.”
But a vote on the issue isn’t guaranteed. The state of Alaska claims the ballot initiative is unconstitutional and is challenging it in court. If the Alaska Supreme Court rules in the state’s favor, Yes for Salmon won’t be on the ballot.
Many of the state’s biggest mining and oil companies are against the initiative, saying it threatens the viability of future projects like the Donlin Mine.
“This misguided and poorly written ballot measure is ripe with unintended consequences,” Kati Capozzi, manager of the group Stand for Alaska, said in a statement. Stand for Alaska is a coalition formed to oppose the initiative. Capozzi previously worked for the Resource Development Council, an industry group.
“We look forward to a robust discussion in the coming months so voters will learn that this proposed ballot measure is not what it claims to be,” Capozzi said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Kati Capozzi currently works for the Resource Development Council. Capozzi is working solely for Stand for Alaska, not RDC, for the duration of the campaign.