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May 17, 2021

Walker or Begich? The Moderate’s Dilemma.

Alaska voters, we need to have a conversation. And I know this may hurt a little. It’s about Bill Walker and Mark Begich, the two “moderates” in the 3-way race for Alaska governor – the first, a former Republican and incumbent, the second, a Democrat and former US Senator. The third player in our little melodrama is Mike Dunleavy, a former Republican right-wing conservative state senator from Wasilla who quit in the middle of his term. In the end, your vote is your choice and yours alone, but I can’t let you step behind the red, white, and blue curtain…

Alaskans Call Out Bully Governor

About 80 people gathered in the spirit of righteous indignation today outside the Anchorage office of Governor Sean Parnell. Protesters called on Parnell to drop the administrations campaign to recoup legal fees from a lawsuit involving the proposed Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay. He’s demanding a million dollars from 88-year old Vic Fischer, an original framer of the Alaska Constitution, and 80-year old former First Lady of Alaska, and others. The stalwart bunch fought the state and sued unsuccessfully for the public’s right to know about exploration work at the mine site. And if you’re wondering about the answer…

Parnell Gets Fish Slapped

When one grapples for a visual allegory of what happened to the Parnell administration this week, it’s hard to think of anything more appropriate than this: That’s Sean Parnell on the right, and the Anchorage Superior Court on the left. The Superior Court ruled that the constitutional rights of Alaskans have been violated by the current administration when Parnell & Co. refused to process a four-year-old application to reserve water in the Chuitna River watershed for wild salmon. “Today’s ruling is a victory for every Alaskan who wants to protect wild salmon and the Alaskan way of life,” said Ron…

Governor Sean Parnell Supports Destruction of Thriving Salmon Habitat for Coal

Mudflats readers will remember coverage over the last year of the issue of the “Unsuitable Lands Petition” that Cook Inletkeeper and the Chuitna Citizens Coalition submitted to the state. Basically, what this petition did was to put forth the idea that certain areas are just plain unsuitable for coal strip mining – specifically the areas directly on either side of the Chuit River (above), and its tributaries that were deemed “important salmon habitat” for Cook Inlet. The petition, if successful, would ensure that a narrow ribbon of land – 50 feet on either side of tributaries, and 100 feet on…

Chuitna Coal – Dollars and Sense

It’s time for a little Mudflats Theatre. But this time, you get to participate in the drama! It’s kind of like an improvisation. Let’s pretend we’re doing a business deal. We sit down in a conference room overlooking majestic Cook Inlet, which borders the city of Anchorage. You arrive, we shake hands, and close the door. You’re on one side of the table, and I’m on the other. We lock eyes for a moment, and then mine dart down to a yellow legal pad in front of me, upon which numbers have been scrawled. I look back up at you…

A Lawsuit in Gov. Sean Parnell’s Future? Stonewalling Angers Anti-Coal Groups.

~The mouth of the Chuit River, between Tyonek and Beluga, Alaska Remember, way back last year when I rode a bus in a snowstorm to go hear testimony in Kenai? It was all about whether to designate the land around the Chuit River “unsuitable” for coal mining. The way it stands now, PacRim Coal plans to (for the first time ever) actually dig up eleven miles of productive salmon stream for a giant open pit coal mine.  “Don’t worry,” they say. “We’ll just put it back the way it was when we’re done.” Well, it doesn’t take a biologist to…

Chuitna Coal Hearing in Kenai Draws a Crowd (updated*)

*A little episode of premature posting. All photos are now here. The “Magic Bus” pulled out of the parking lot in midtown Anchorage packed to the gunwales. People came out on a weekday evening, with the threat of an impending blizzard in Turnagain Pass, knowing they wouldn’t be home until well after midnight, to give public testimony on an issue that will impact every Alaskan, and that most have never heard of. Despite the fact that the specific project addressed by this petition is across Cook Inlet, and local residents of the area only amount to a couple hundred, the ramifications…

Oyster Roundup!

~Thick and fast they came at last and more, and more, and more! The Magic Bus Yes, that’s really the name of the bus that will be taking people to Kenai tomorrow to testify at the one and only public hearing regarding the proposed Pac-Rim Chuitna coal project. For those not going on the bus (leaving Midtown Sagaya at 1:15pm), you can submit your comments to:  russell.kirkham@alaska.gov but it MUST be done by 5pm on Wednesday, January 19. You don’t need to know every little detail to make your feelings known. All you have to know is that there ought to be…

Voices from the Flats – Citizens Speak Out for Salmon Over Coal

~The mouth of the Chuitna River where 7 million gallons/day of mine waste would pour into Cook Inlet every day, right across from Anchorage, if the Chuitna Coal project goes through. By Bill Sherwonit I wish to add my voice, again, to the many and diverse Alaskans who oppose the destruction of a Cook Inlet salmon stream for the sake of a coal mine. And I urge other Alaskans to join the effort to stop the proposed Chuitna coal strip mine, by either attending a public hearing in Kenai on Jan. 19, or by sending comments to the state’s Department…

Former UA Professor Receives Cook Inletkeeper’s Highest Award

A Commentary By Susan B. Andrews and John Creed KOTZEBUE—Finally, he’s getting a dinner. For almost 30 years, Rick Steiner toiled away at the University of Alaska, rising through the ranks to become one of the most accomplished, high-profile professors in the history of UA’s Marine Advisory Program. But when Professor Steiner left our state’s public university system earlier this year, the employer to which he dedicated virtually his entire career showed him less regard than it would a temp. Most UA faculty members who rise to the rank of “full” professor and serve as long as Steiner are conferred…