State of Alaska Transboundary Working Group

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott issued this statement on May 6, 2016 regarding transboundary rivers:

“We have been working with the B.C. government since last year to improve communication, transparency and collaboration in regards to mines that could impact transboundary rivers. The Office of the Auditor General’s report is troubling and a wakeup call to the B.C. government that important changes must occur. We understand the B.C. government has agreed to many of the recommendations. We have just received the report and will be reviewing the document in detail.

In the meantime, we continue to work with B.C. government officials to secure a Statement of Cooperation between Alaska and B.C. that will ensure the continued involvement of the State of Alaska, Alaska municipalities, Tribes, our fishing community and concerned citizens.

Alaska remains committed to environmental integrity that will ensure the protection of not only our transboundary waters, but our way of life and we will work with our Canadian counterparts and all stakeholders to meet this goal.”

Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott
Chair, State of Alaska Transboundary Working Group

The State of Alaska is increasing its efforts to facilitate and promote the protection of water quality, quantity, and watershed integrity in Alaska, with special emphasis on salmon and other Alaska fish stocks. The State’s efforts will address the risk of pollution from mines and other development projects in British Columbia by establishing: standard practices with the government of the Province of British Columbia for the exchange of relevant information and meaningful dialog with Alaska state agencies on projects that could discharge wastes or other potentially deleterious materials to Transboundary waters; convenient means for the Alaska public to obtain reliable information on these Transboundary projects, their discharges, water quality, habitat and fish health, and opportunities to provide input to the governments of British Columbia and Alaska on decisions relating to these projects. (For more information about Canadian Large Mine projects and environmental impacts, please see below).

In 2015, Governor Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding. While the MOU is not a legally binding document, it is a firm commitment by both governments to continue working together where possible. The MOU identifies the broad areas of continued or new activity by Alaska and British Columbia, including:

  • Establishing a bilateral working group on the protection of transboundary waters;
  • Sharing best practices on workforce development and training;
  • Advancing marine transportation reliability and safety;
  • Reinforcing emergency management mutual aid response through the existing Pacific Northwest Emergency Management Arrangement;
  • Fostering continued growth of existing and increased transportation links;
  • Continuing joint visitor industry promotion;
  • And exploring other areas for cooperative action, including natural resource development, fisheries, ocean acidification, border management, trade and investment, and climate change adaptation.

In response to increased mining activity in northwestern British Columbia, Canada and increasing concerns from Alaskan stakeholders, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott established the Transboundary Working Group to improve the State's involvement in activities proposed in B.C. that could impact Alaskan waters and fish. The Transboundary Working Group is composed of representatives from the Departments of Fish and Game, Environmental Conservation, Natural Resources, Commerce and Economic Development, Labor, and the Lt. Governor’s office.

Transboundary Working Group White Paper

Lt. Governor Mallott discussing transboundary mining concerns with the Alaska Miners Association and local elected officials in Ketchikan