Alaska and British Columbia Officials Implement Statement of Cooperation Addressing Mining and Water Quality Concerns
JUNEAU — Alaska and British Columbia (BC) officials began the implementation of the groundbreaking Statement of Cooperation (SoC) to address transboundary mining and water quality concerns in Southeast Alaska with their first Bilateral Working Group (BWG) teleconference meeting last week. Read the full press release.
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.