Lawmakers urge Dunleavy to engage B.C. over transboundary mining

State lawmakers from both the House and Senate are urging the Dunleavy administration to continue the state’s engagement with British Columbia over pollution threats from transboundary mining.

Twenty-two legislators sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer earlier this month calling on them to continue efforts that began with their predecessors.

The Bilateral Working Group on the Protection of Transboundary Waters was established in 2015 by then-Gov. Bill Walker and B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

It’s since met three times. This year it’s Alaska’s turn to host the meeting with a teleconference slated for mid-June.

Republicans, Democrats and independents from both houses signed the letter. It notes that a dozen large-scale, open pit and metal mines are either permitted, operating or lie abandoned in transboundary watersheds that flow into Southeast Alaska.

“Without proper management in place to evaluate the potential cumulative effects of multiple mining projects and without robust financial assurances for the projects,” the letter states, “these Canadian mining developments threaten to permanently impact the water resources and economic drivers of Southeast Alaska.”

Gov. Walker’s administration had urged B.C. to require new mines to post a full reclamation bond to cover the cost of cleanup and closure. The letter urges these efforts to continue.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.

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