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November 23, 2017

Pebble is Back

When I was 19 years old I was in a boat accident. I spent about 18 minutes in the ocean. I have never recovered from that cold exposure. Oh, I know people have been half frozen and made it back all in good order. I, however, get to experience it over and over again. It’s like my body thermometer has PTSD and the moment I start getting a little chilly it thinks we’re floating in the Gulf of Alaska again surrounded by kelp eels. We all have triggers that suck us back into situations scattered about our lives. A friend…

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​EPA Should Stand its Ground and Protect the World’s Greatest Salmon Runs

Whenever I give presentations outside of Alaska, I always ask the audience, “How many of you like salmon?” Most hands in the room go up. Then I ask, “How many of you have heard of Copper River Reds?” Many of the hands still remain up. But when I ask, “How many of you have heard of Bristol Bay salmon?” almost all hands go down. And then I tell them the odds are 2:1 that they have eaten some. Nearly half of the commercially-caught Sockeye salmon in the world comes from the Bristol Bay region. The science explaining why Bristol Bay is the…

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Daughter of Murdered Honduran Activist Speaks Out

Three months ago, Laura was about to get on a plane. Her mother hugged her one last time and said, “If something happens to me, don’t be scared.” The next day Laura’s mother was murdered by men with guns. [originally published in NationofChange.org] Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world – but Laura’s mom’s shooting wasn’t random. She wasn’t connected to narcos or coyotes or any of the other vaguely racist assumptions that the media connects to all deaths in Central America. Laura’s mom was the environmental activist, Berta Cáceres. She won the Goldman Environmental Prize and she…

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Big Ideas for a Big State

By Howard Weaver President Obama’s recent attention to Alaska — especially in Dillingham, Kotzebue and Seward — provides a welcome focus for looking beyond the bleak landscape of oil price collapse and budget cuts toward a brighter, more sustainable future. For perhaps the first time since western contact, Alaskans may be motivated to turn away from the love-em-and-leave-em dynamics of extraction to embrace their genuine treasures: the cultural diversity and frontier spirit of its people; an abundance of renewable resources that can be managed and sustained forever; and indigenous wisdom from the North that can benefit all mankind. Seward, then…

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Obama Comes to Alaska: We Have to Break the Ice, so We Can Save It.

As I drove, I imagined having to explain to a Secret Service agent that the reason my boots set off the sniffer dog is because the last two places I wore them were a pig farm and a gun show respectively. So, there was a perfectly good explanation why I smelled of gunpowder, and fertilizer. “No really! I swear! I still have the pictures on my phone!” I was glad I had allowed extra time. I had allowed so much extra time, it turns out, that I was the first member of the press at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) and waited in…

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Obama Comes to Alaska: We Have to Save the Ice so We Can Break It

As I drove, I imagined having to explain to a Secret Service agent that the reason my boots set off the sniffer dog is because the last two places I wore them were a pig farm and a gun show respectively. So, there was a perfectly good explanation why I smelled of gunpowder, and fertilizer. “No really! I swear! I still have the pictures on my phone!” I was glad I had allowed extra time. I had allowed so much extra time, it turns out, that I was the first member of the press at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) and waited in…

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Obama is Coming…Glacier Conference!

3:38 pm:  I was in 2 press briefings, one on Arctic Resiliency and one exciting one on the Arctic Steering Committee by Dr. john Holdren and Ambassador Mark Brzezynski.  I asked a question about food insecurity and the lengthening growing season.  Good answers.  The videos will be up later.  Jeannie is here now so she went to a briefing.  Then, we’ll both get placed for the President’s speech in about a half hour!!! 12:48 pm:  waiting for the first press briefing to happen in about 20 minutes with Fran Ulmer and other members of the Committee on Arctic Resiliance. 10:45…

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Court Delivers Double-Whammy Over Pebble

Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court issued two decisions that will have far-reaching impacts about how the Department of Natural Resources conducts business in hard rock mineral exploration, and the ability of the State and others to chill opposition. While the two cases involved the Pebble Prospect exploration, neither will impact the development of that mine. Background In 1988, Teck Cominco drilled the first exploration wells in what would become the 360 square-mile Pebble Prospect. By 2010, ownership of the Pebble claims would change hands from Teck Cominco to Northern Dynasty Minerals to the Pebble Limited Partnership. Collectively, those entities would…

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Send in the GOP Clowns

It’s politics as usual in Juneau. As Alaska burns, Alaska Republicans bloviate. We’re staring down the barrel of multibillion-dollar state budget deficits as far into the future as we can see. Are the Republicans majorities in the Legislature acknowledging that their misguided spending and tax policies got us into this fix? Are they prepared to set a new course? Not bloody likely. Rather than rolling up their sleeves, trying to come up with constructive solutions, they’re trotting out the usual gimmicks to divert public attention from their failures. So, by the lights of legislative leaders, what’s the big problem in…

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Court Sees Value in Protecting Bristol Bay

Before the Bristol Bay Forever Initiative was ever printed on statewide ballots, it had to defend a legal challenge from an individual named Richard Hughes, the Alaska Miners Association, and the Council of Alaska Producers. The Alaska Supreme Court issued an oral decision allowing that initiative to go to the ballot. Today, the Court issued a written order justifying its decision, Hughes v. Treadwell, Slip Op. No. 6981 (Alaska Supreme Court, Jan. 30, 2015). In order for a citizen ballot initiative to be valid in Alaska, it must avoid certain prohibited topics.  Under Article XI, section 7, it may not engage in an appropriation…

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