In reversal, EPA deals setback to controversial gold mining proposal in Alaska

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/national/health-science/in-reversal-epa-deals-setback-to-controversial-gold-mining-proposal-in-alaska/2018/01/26/75d73aae-0206-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html?utm_term=.adad0a2fdf6b&__twitter_impression=true

“Southwestern Alaska contains a reservoir of gold worth an estimated $120 billion. The lakes and tributaries in the region feed into Bristol Bay and a fishery that generates $500 million a year.

Feds: B.C. mines won’t go before international commission

http://www.ktoo.org/2015/09/16/feds-b-c-mines-wont-go-international-commission/

“The department, in responoce to our inquiry, says it’s concerned about British Columbia mining’s impacts on Alaskans, including Native groups, commercial fishermen and the tourism industry. It added that it had shared those concerns with senior levels of Canada and British Columbia’s governments.

But State Department officials say they do not anticipate referring the issue to the International Joint Commission at this time. Instead, they’re relying on increased cooperation between Alaska and British Columbia.”

We have this successful transboundary organization, the IJC, why does the federal government refuse to use?

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Wildlife Officials Warn Pilots to Avoid Massive Walrus Herd – NBC News.com

An excerpt from NBC reporting:

An estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted about 5 miles north of Point Lay, Alaska, on Sept. 27 by scientists on a survey flight. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requested that pilots fly at least 2,000 feet above the walrus herd and a half mile away from it. Helicopters were asked to fly 3,000 feet above and a mile away from the walruses, who were forced to swim to shore due to the lack of the sea ice that normally provides resting areas this time of year. No flights had been rerouted away from the beach, as some outlets previously reported, the Federal Aviation Authority told NBC News. The request from the FWS warned that walruses are sensitive to engine noise — a problem when planes fly low to get a better look at the animals — and aircraft could cause them to stampede. “This big group at Point Lay is mostly cows with calves, and when they stampede, they tend to run over the calves,” James MacCracken, supervisory wildlife biologist at the FWS regional office in Alaska, told NBC News. 

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For more go to:

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/wildlife-officials-warn-pilots-avoid-massive-walrus-herd-n216641

Wildlife Officials Warn Pilots to Avoid Massive Walrus Herd – NBC News.com

An excerpt from NBC reporting:

An estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted about 5 miles north of Point Lay, Alaska, on Sept. 27 by scientists on a survey flight. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requested that pilots fly at least 2,000 feet above the walrus herd and a half mile away from it. Helicopters were asked to fly 3,000 feet above and a mile away from the walruses, who were forced to swim to shore due to the lack of the sea ice that normally provides resting areas this time of year. No flights had been rerouted away from the beach, as some outlets previously reported, the Federal Aviation Authority told NBC News. The request from the FWS warned that walruses are sensitive to engine noise — a problem when planes fly low to get a better look at the animals — and aircraft could cause them to stampede. “This big group at Point Lay is mostly cows with calves, and when they stampede, they tend to run over the calves,” James MacCracken, supervisory wildlife biologist at the FWS regional office in Alaska, told NBC News. 

image

For more go to:

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/wildlife-officials-warn-pilots-avoid-massive-walrus-herd-n216641

Russian tanker loaded with diesel fuel collides with Arctic ice floe | Alaska Dispatch

Diesel fuel spill in the Arctic. Arctic Council needs a stronger agreement address prevention of spills along with already agreed upon remedial measures. Alaska dispatch reporting on this spill – an excerpt:

“The 453-foot Russian-flagged tanker Nordvik is rated to travel in non-Arctic seas in thin ice, but collided with an ice floe in Matisen Straight, causing a hole that resulted in water ingress. The Northern Sea Route Administration had given the vessel permission to sail in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea, two of the most northern seas. There are as yet no reports of diesel fuel spills in the area, and the vessel was reportedly traveling toward Murmansk. 

A graphic of sea ice concentrations shows ice in that region, though the majority of the passage is shown to be ice-free. 

A Russian union spokesperson said the accident is an example of the need for more emergency response capacity in the region prior to allowing vessels to travel in the Arctic seas. 

“Yesterday’s accident was a direct threat to the lives of sailors and the ecology of the Arctic,” Aleksander Bodnya says to the union’s web site. “Vessels like that should not be sailing on NSR, simply because they are not capable of withstanding the ice conditions.” 

Alaska’s state officials responded with similar concern, saying the incident illustrates why Alaska and the United States need to continue to push an Arctic marine safety and life safety agenda. 

“We have an Arctic Council agreement signed this year to help each other in cleanup, but need more work in prevention,” said Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, one of the state officials who has been leading Arctic policy efforts, in an email.

Treadwell said one of the proposals from the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment includes a mandatory code defining what kind of ships can make these voyages. 

“Russia and other nation’s crude oil and product tankers now come through the Bering Strait, through waters that are a major food source for Alaskans and the world,” Treadwell said. “They should have contingency plans and the support of an oil spill response organization in case of a problem. That is not cheap, but we have to find a way to make it happen.” 

In 2012, 46 ships sailed the entire length from Europe to East Asia. In 2013, administrators of the Northern Sea Route had granted permission for more than 400 ships to sail.”

For full article go to:

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130913/russian-tanker-loaded-diesel-fuel-collides-arctic-ice-floe

Climate change could make Greenland green by 2100 – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent

Reporting by John Van Radowitz on the greening of Greenland:

Today only four indigenous tree species grow on the large island, confined to small areas in the south. Three-quarters of Greenland, the world’s most sparsely populated country, is covered by a barren ice sheet.
But by the year 2100 swathes of verdant forest could be covering much of its land surface. “Greenland has…the potential to become a lot greener,” Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, from Aarhus University in Denmark, said. “Forest like the coastal coniferous forests in Alaska and western Canada will be able to thrive in fairly large parts of Greenland… with trees like sitka spruce and lodgepole pine. It will provide new opportunities for the Greenlanders.”
Research showed that with expected levels of warming, a majority of 44 species of North American and European trees and bushes will be able to thrive in Greenland.
The transformation is likely to alter Greenland’s ecosystem, leading to the loss of Arctic animals and plants. On the other hand there could be significant commercial possibilities linked to forestry, agriculture and tourism.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-change-could-make-greenland-green-by-2100-8786840.html

Pebble Mine: Gold Copper v Salmon

I know my choice. What is yours? Excerpt on Pebble mine controversy:

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Pebble Mine, if built, will be one of the world’s largest open pit gold and copper mines, yielding 10.8 billion metric tons of ore of which 1% will be usable and 99% would be mine waste stored in what will be the world’s largest earthen dam reservoir – a reservoir that must exist and remain intact forever if the remarkable ecosystem of Alaska’s Bristol Bay is to survive. Any failure will be catastrophic to the surrounding environment. Events are underway to locate this mine on the headwaters of the Kvichak and the Nushagak Rivers which produce over half the salmon in the Bristol Bay Region. This region produces millions of wild salmon annually that represent the largest sustainable harvest of wild salmon on earth. It continues to support not only the indigenous people’s salmon culture that has existed for thousands of years, but is a significant protein source for the world, and the foundation of a food chain that supports not only more than 138 species of wildlife, from grizzly bears and river otters to shorebirds and bald eagles, but the surrounding flora as well. The pristine nature of this ecosystem is extraordinarily fragile and this is a massive gamble – a gamble which has inevitably failed in other salmon-rich drainages now either seriously degraded or eliminated altogether.

READ ON:

http://www.orvis.com/intro.aspx?subject=11059