Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

04/30/2019 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
10:09:15 AM Start
10:09:57 AM Presentation: an Overview of British Columbia Mining in Shared Transboundary Watersheds
11:38:17 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ An Overview of British Columbia Mining in Shared TELECONFERENCED
Transboundary Watersheds
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         April 30, 2019                                                                                         
                           10:09 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: AN OVERVIEW OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MINING IN SHARED                                                                  
TRANSBOUNDARY WATERSHEDS                                                                                                        
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JILL WEITZ, Director                                                                                                            
Salmon Beyond Borders (SBB)                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  overview  of British  Columbia                                                             
mining in shared transboundary  watersheds, provided a PowerPoint                                                               
presentation  titled  "Alaska  - British  Columbia  Transboundary                                                               
TIS PETERMAN, Coordinator                                                                                                       
Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC)                                                                    
Wrangell, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the overview of British                                                                 
Columbia mining in shared transboundary watersheds.                                                                             
CHRIS SERGEANT, Research Scientist                                                                                              
Flathead Lake Bio Station                                                                                                       
University of Montana                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  overview  of British  Columbia                                                             
mining in shared transboundary  watersheds, provided a PowerPoint                                                               
presentation  titled  "Assessing  mining impacts  on  our  shared                                                               
Alaska-British Columbia rivers."                                                                                                
DAVID LANDIS, Mayor                                                                                                             
Ketchikan Gateway Borough                                                                                                       
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the overview  of British                                                             
Columbia mining in shared transboundary watersheds.                                                                             
FRANCES LEACH, Executive Director                                                                                               
United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA)                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the overview  of British                                                             
Columbia mining in shared transboundary watersheds.                                                                             
NIKKI SKUCE, Director                                                                                                           
Northern Confluence                                                                                                             
Smithers, British Columbia, Canada                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the overview  of British                                                             
Columbia mining in shared transboundary watersheds.                                                                             
ROBYN ALLAN, Independent Economist                                                                                              
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the overview  of British                                                             
Columbia mining in shared transboundary watersheds.                                                                             
JASON DION, Lead Researcher                                                                                                     
Canada's Ecofiscal Commission                                                                                                   
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada                                                                                                         
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  overview  of British  Columbia                                                             
mining in shared transboundary  watersheds, provided a PowerPoint                                                               
presentation titled  "Financial assurance  for mining  in British                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
10:09:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries meeting to  order at 10:09 a.m. Present at  the call to                                                               
order  were Representatives  Kreiss-Tomkins,  Vance, and  Stutes.                                                               
Representative Tarr arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                     
^Presentation: An  Overview of British Columbia  Mining in Shared                                                               
Transboundary Watersheds                                                                                                        
 Presentation: An Overview of British Columbia Mining in Shared                                                             
                    Transboundary Watersheds                                                                                
10:09:57 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
an overview  of British Columbia  mining in  shared transboundary                                                               
watersheds provided  by a  variety of  witnesses from  Alaska and                                                               
CHAIR STUTES  stated that this is  a very important issue  to the                                                               
future health  of Alaska's fisheries.   It  is an issue  that has                                                               
brought many stakeholders together from  both sides of the border                                                               
to work  towards a  common goal of  holding mining  activities in                                                               
British  Columbia (BC)  on the  rivers  shared by  Alaska and  BC                                                               
accountable for safe practices.   Today's presenters were invited                                                               
to educate  the committee on  the nature  of the issue,  the past                                                               
work that  has been done  between stakeholders,  the legislature,                                                               
and the Alaska Congressional Delegation,  as well as the ultimate                                                               
goal of  putting a  binding international  framework in  place to                                                               
ensure accountable and responsible mining operations.                                                                           
10:11:05 AM                                                                                                                   
JILL  WEITZ, Director,  Salmon Beyond  Borders (SBB),  provided a                                                               
PowerPoint  presentation   titled  "Alaska  -   British  Columbia                                                               
Transboundary Watersheds."   She began by  recognizing the letter                                                               
to  Governor  Dunleavy,  dated  4/9/19, that  was  signed  by  22                                                               
members of  the Alaska State  Legislature.  The letter  urges the                                                               
Dunleavy Administration  to continue  the work that  thousands of                                                               
Alaskans, 15 of  the 19 federally recognized  tribes in Southeast                                                               
Alaska,  and  the  Alaska  Delegation   have  been  pushing  for,                                                               
including  the securing  of binding  and enforceable  protections                                                               
for transboundary watersheds.                                                                                                   
MS. WEITZ said she has been  working on the Salmon Beyond Borders                                                               
campaign for five  years, since its inception in 2014.   Prior to                                                               
that she served  as a compliance and enforcement  officer for the                                                               
Department of Environmental Conservation  (DEC) under the Parnell                                                               
Administration,  where  she  was tasked  with  regulating  mines,                                                               
seafood  processing  plants, large-scale  construction  projects,                                                               
and water and wastewater treatment facilities.                                                                                  
MS. WEITZ  turned to  slide 2 of  her presentation  and explained                                                               
that  Salmon Beyond  Borders  is  a campaign  that  is driven  by                                                               
commercial  and  sport  fishing groups,  local  businesses,  tour                                                               
operators, and  concerned citizens, in collaboration  with tribes                                                               
and First Nations in Southeast  Alaska and British Columbia.  The                                                               
goal is  to defend  and sustain  the transboundary  rivers, jobs,                                                               
and way  of life.   She  moved to slide  4 and  acknowledged that                                                               
this region is  in the traditional lands of the  Taku Kwaan.  The                                                               
watersheds being focused on are the  Taku, Stikine, and Unuk.  At                                                               
roughly  30,000  square miles,  these  are  some of  the  largest                                                               
producing salmon  rivers in the  state of Alaska and  the largest                                                               
in Southeast  Alaska, producing 80 percent  of Southeast Alaska's                                                               
king salmon.                                                                                                                    
MS. WEITZ  displayed slide 5 and  explained that the focus  is on                                                               
these transboundary watersheds because  of their productivity and                                                               
because within these  watersheds on the British  Columbia side of                                                               
the political border there are  more than 12 large-scale open-pit                                                               
mines  in various  stages of  abandonment, advanced  exploration,                                                               
and  development.   Attention is  being given  to these  projects                                                               
because  of their  proximity as  well as  their scale  and scope.                                                               
Some of the  projects rival the size of the  proposed Pebble Mine                                                               
in Bristol  Bay.  These open  pit mines are at  the headwaters of                                                               
these   shared  watersheds,   so  the   resources  within   these                                                               
watersheds  are  shared by  both  British  Columbian and  Alaska.                                                               
These projects are  massive and nearly all of  them have tailings                                                               
dams or  earthen dams that  are backing toxic waste,  making them                                                               
ticking time  bombs for  Southeast Alaska's  multi-billion dollar                                                               
[salmon and] visitor economies.                                                                                                 
10:15:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WEITZ  reviewed the timeline outlined  on slide 6.   She said                                                               
the  Tulsequah Chief  Mine  (TCM) in  British  Columbia has  been                                                               
abandoned since 1957,  and the Tulsequah River is  a tributary of                                                               
the Taku River  watershed.  This abandoned mine  has been raising                                                               
concerns for  commercial fishermen for  the last few  decades and                                                               
is   continuing  to   generate  attention   from  fishermen   and                                                               
governments on both sides of the  border.  In 2014 a transmission                                                               
line  was   completed,  bringing   power  to   Northwest  British                                                               
Columbia.  That led to  the development of the permitting process                                                               
for the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) Project  in the Unuk River                                                               
watershed 19 miles  from the border with Alaska.   The Unuk River                                                               
drains into  the Misty  Fjords National Monument  and if  the KSM                                                               
Mine is  built as proposed it  will be the largest  open pit mine                                                               
in North  American and fifth largest  in the world.   The process                                                               
and speed in which these projects  were coming online came to the                                                               
attention  of nongovernment  (NGO)  organizations, tribes,  local                                                               
municipalities, and  business owners.  They  recognized that they                                                               
needed to learn more about what  was happening and to organize as                                                               
to what  could be done to  be engaged and to  determine how these                                                               
shared watersheds  are managed.   That was  the evolution  of the                                                               
Salmon  Beyond  Borders  campaign and  the  Southeast  Indigenous                                                               
Transboundary  Commission, which  is comprised  of 15  of the  19                                                               
federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                
MS. WEITZ  related that  in 2014 the  Mount Polley  Mine tailings                                                               
dam disaster  in the  Fraser River  watershed dumped  6.6 billion                                                               
gallons of toxins  into the Fraser River just as  the salmon were                                                               
returning.    More  is  being learned  about  the  BC  regulatory                                                               
process  and its  inefficiencies.   Letters and  resolutions have                                                               
been  garnered  from  dozens  of  municipalities  and  tribes  in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska and  letters from  legislators, which  garnered                                                               
attention  from   the  state's  administration  and   members  of                                                               
Congress.    U.S.  Senator  Lisa   Murkowski,  U.S.  Senator  Dan                                                               
Sullivan, and U.S.  Congressman Don Young have  been champions on                                                               
this  issue since  these efforts  began.   In 2015  the State  of                                                               
Alaska signed an amended memorandum  of understanding (MOU), with                                                               
a  subsequent statement  of cooperation  (SOC), that  established                                                               
opportunities for  transparency between  the State of  Alaska and                                                               
British Columbia.   This is  an important  piece of work  so that                                                               
transparency  is  shared, but  it  does  not secure  binding  and                                                               
enforceable  protections  or   financial  assurances  to  protect                                                               
Alaskan interests.                                                                                                              
MS. WEITZ said a push is  continuing for a federal engagement and                                                               
a federal  process that will  lead to those  binding protections.                                                               
This has  led to continued  pressure at the Department  of State,                                                               
the   agency  that   would  maintain   these  efforts   with  its                                                               
counterparts  in   Canada,  namely  Global  Affairs   Canada,  to                                                               
establish the  management of these transboundary  watersheds.  It                                                               
also  kickstarted the  Interagency Working  Group at  the federal                                                               
level, which is comprised of  the Department of State, Department                                                               
of  Interior, and  Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA).   That                                                               
group is working  to address the gaps and limitations  of the MOU                                                               
with Alaska and  British Columbia as well as  the other bordering                                                               
states  of Washington,  Idaho,  and Montana,  all  of which  have                                                               
various  issues regarding  transboundary impacts  from BC  mining                                                               
into shared watersheds.                                                                                                         
MS. WEITZ  noted that work  is ongoing for increased  funding for                                                               
monitoring  from the  U.S. federal  government.   Just this  year                                                               
through  U.S. Senator  Lisa Murkowski,  the U.S.  Congress passed                                                               
$1.5 million  for the installation  of super gauges  that monitor                                                               
water quantity  and water quality.   Those gauges will go  in the                                                               
transboundary watershed shared between the U.S. and Canada.                                                                     
10:20:35 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  inquired  what the  $1.5  million                                                               
will do and  whether it will get  part of the way or  all the way                                                               
toward the need for water monitoring.                                                                                           
MS. WEITZ  replied that since  fiscal year (FY) 2017,  [the U.S.]                                                               
has gone  from a $300,000  appropriation to reinstitute  a stream                                                               
gauge  in  the  Unuk  watershed  to $1.5  million  for  the  U.S.                                                               
Geological Survey  (USGS) to prioritize  transboundary watersheds                                                               
that need  bolstered data.   To establish defensible  data, which                                                               
means the  U.S. knows the  current water quality so  that impacts                                                               
can  be  identified when  they  occur,  three  to five  years  of                                                               
baseline data  are needed, and  these stream gauges will  be very                                                               
helpful in determining that data.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  whether the  USGS  is  the                                                               
operative  agency  in  gathering  this  data  and  whether  other                                                               
federal agencies  are involved.   He further asked  whether state                                                               
agencies should be involved.                                                                                                    
MS. WEITZ responded that for  fiscal year 2020, an appropriations                                                               
request  has been  submitted for  EPA  to be  further engaged  to                                                               
supplement what the  USGS is doing.  In addition  to the funding,                                                               
report language  within the  bill in  Congress requires  that the                                                               
USGS coordinate with  state agencies in Alaska as  well as tribes                                                               
and local  entities that  are already on  the ground  doing water                                                               
quality monitoring work.                                                                                                        
10:22:52 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WEITZ  resumed her presentation.   She displayed slide  7 and                                                               
pointed out the problems.   She explained that deregulation under                                                               
the various  administrations in British  Columbia and  Canada has                                                               
made  it  very  hard  to establish  platforms  that  provide  for                                                               
adequate transboundary governance and  the determination of these                                                               
shared  resources.    Salmon  Beyond  Borders  and  many  of  its                                                               
partners are  advocating that  there become  a platform  for both                                                               
the province  and the state to  discuss these issues, as  well as                                                               
to  bring  in the  federal  governments,  the tribes,  and  First                                                               
Nations,  and  that they  be  very  integral in  determining  the                                                               
management.   Such a platform  would help in  discussing concerns                                                               
and advocating  for protections because Alaska  has everything to                                                               
lose and nothing to gain from projects in British Columbia.                                                                     
MS. WEITZ  moved to slide  8 and discussed the  proposed solution                                                               
of establishing  a binding international framework.   She related                                                               
that the 1909 Boundary Waters  Treaty between the U.S. and Canada                                                               
is  an already  existing  tool.   The  adjudicating  body of  the                                                               
Boundary  Waters Treaty,  which was  set to  resolve and  prevent                                                               
disputes   among   transboundary    watershed   users,   is   the                                                               
International Joint Commission (IJC).   Salmon Beyond Borders has                                                               
been  working  with  various   local,  state,  and  congressional                                                               
elected  officials   in  pushing   for  an   International  Joint                                                               
Commission referral.   A referral  would bring together  the U.S.                                                               
and  Canada  to review  what  it  means  to obtain  consent  from                                                               
indigenous First  Nations and tribes in  traditional territories,                                                               
what  it  means  to  analyze   data,  what  it  means  to  assess                                                               
cumulative impacts  through an adequate  risk assessment,  and to                                                               
determine what is  needed for near term monitoring  and long term                                                               
monitoring  of these  projects, most  of which  require perpetual                                                               
treatment.   This  ultimately will  lead  into the  best ways  of                                                               
determining  that   liability  and  accountability   for  British                                                               
Columbia  as well  as  the mining  companies  themselves and  the                                                               
industry as whole.                                                                                                              
10:25:38 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  recalled that during  his freshman                                                               
year as a  legislator he was in Washington, D.C.,  when the issue                                                               
of KSM and transboundary mines was  just gaining steam and he met                                                               
with the  IJC to talk about  that.  He  was told by both  IJC and                                                               
Department of  State staff that, in  so many words, good  luck in                                                               
getting them to engage and that  there is no incentive for IJC to                                                               
stand up for the interests of Alaska  and the U.S.  So, while the                                                               
IJC  exists,  it  doesn't  have  teeth  or  put  its  teeth  into                                                               
anything.  He  requested Ms. Weitz to speak to  the strategy that                                                               
Alaska and  the U.S. might have  in trying to get  IJC to mediate                                                               
the  concerns of  the  U.S.  in this  issue.    He also  inquired                                                               
whether there  are examples  from other  transboundary watersheds                                                               
in recent history in which IJC  has involved itself and helped to                                                               
mediate the different interests between the U.S. and Canada.                                                                    
MS. WEITZ answered,  "We've been on that same path  ... as far as                                                               
knowing this tool  exists and kind of being tossed  around as far                                                               
as  its  effectiveness  and  whether or  not  it  actually  seems                                                               
plausible."   The IJC has  been engaged to  address transboundary                                                               
concerns, most  recently in  Vermont and  Quebec and  $20 million                                                               
was  appropriated  to do  this  type  of  review to  address  how                                                               
management of shared watersheds should  be managed.  In the 1980s                                                               
in  the  Flathead Valley  of  Montana  and British  Columbia  the                                                               
Flathead River  was the  product of an  IJC review  because there                                                               
were  proposed  coal mines  in  the  headwaters of  the  Flathead                                                               
River.  The  IJC determined that if the coal  operation could not                                                               
prove that it would have no  impact to the endangered bull trout,                                                               
it  could  not  be  authorized  to begin  operation.    So,  that                                                               
watershed  remains protected  without development.   An  adjacent                                                               
watershed, the Elk  and Kootenai that originates in  BC and flows                                                               
into  Montana and  Idaho and  then back  into BC,  has not  had a                                                               
federal  review or  engagement and  existing pollution  is wiping                                                               
out fisheries and deformities are being seen in fish and birds.                                                                 
MS. WEITZ continued  her answer, explaining that  for the Alaska-                                                               
British  Columbia situation,  walls are  being run  into in  that                                                               
Canada is not going to want to  come to the table because this is                                                               
an opportunity  for BC  to develop  in these  northern watersheds                                                               
and there  will be  reluctancy from  the industry.   Not  only is                                                               
this  an issue  in Alaska  that is  now garnering  more and  more                                                               
attention from members of Congress,  but there is the possibility                                                               
of  development in  the  headwaters of  the  Skagit watershed,  a                                                               
river  originating in  BC  and flowing  into  Washington that  is                                                               
Puget  Sound's largest  salmon producing  river.   Salmon  Beyond                                                               
Borders  has  come  together with  its  partners  in  Washington,                                                               
Idaho, and  Montana and built  power in  numbers so that  the IJC                                                               
process now being  sought is an assessment  of what transboundary                                                               
watershed management  needs to  look like  in these  mineral rich                                                               
resource areas.   More progress has been made  during the current                                                               
U.S.  administration than  the former,  and in  a recent  trip to                                                               
Washington,  D.C., to  meet  with the  Department  of State,  she                                                               
gleaned that things  are closer than before  towards getting that                                                               
multi-state  IJC  referral.   So,  it's  critical  that  Alaska's                                                               
Congressional Delegation continue pushing for  it.  As the letter                                                               
from legislators to Governor Dunleavy  alluded to and encouraged,                                                               
there is support  from the executive offices in  these states, as                                                               
well, in pushing for those  binding protections, which would be a                                                               
result of a review such as this.                                                                                                
10:31:06 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  asked  whether Salmon  Beyond  Borders  has                                                               
looked  at  the  Great  Lakes  [Water  Quality  Agreement]  as  a                                                               
possible framework for international  cooperation.  She noted she                                                               
worked on this as a college student.                                                                                            
MS. WEITZ  replied that the  Great Lakes Water  Quality Agreement                                                               
is an excellent  example of an authorized  appropriation and that                                                               
is what  Salmon Beyond  Borders is  working for  in FY  2021 with                                                               
members  of Congress  and the  various  agencies.   That type  of                                                               
platform  has been  effective and  is  something SBB  is open  to                                                               
considering  because  it  involves tribes  and  stakeholders  and                                                               
First Nations as well as the appropriate government entities.                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  requested Ms.  Weitz to  elaborate about  the Great                                                               
Lakes Water Quality Agreement.                                                                                                  
MS.  WEITZ responded  that the  agreement is  an opportunity  for                                                               
experts, primarily in the technical  sense.  So, it is scientists                                                               
coming together  to determine water quality  levels and standards                                                               
that need to  be worked towards.  It brings  together the various                                                               
state and federal agencies and  tribes to work towards management                                                               
of  these watersheds,  be  it monitoring  and  the permitting  of                                                               
potential development for current and future operations.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  commented that  her work  on that  issue was                                                               
impactful  because  political  boundaries  are  meaningless  when                                                               
talking about resource management.   It was an important learning                                                               
experience  through  which she  learned  that  pollution in  Lake                                                               
Superior takes  60 years to  make its  way into the  St. Lawrence                                                               
seaway.   She  grew up  in the  Akron-Cleveland area,  called the                                                               
cancer  belt  as  a  result  of heavy  industry,  and  where  the                                                               
Cuyahoga  River  spontaneously  caught  on  fire  [on  6/22/1969]                                                               
because of  pollution.   Much great  work has  now been  done and                                                               
this example of success should be  looked at, as well as why this                                                               
work was necessary in the first place.                                                                                          
10:33:52 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  offered his understanding  that in                                                               
the  IJC   process,  Canada's  commissioners  on   the  IJC  must                                                               
acquiesce  to an  IJC finding  or agreement.   He  inquired about                                                               
what motivated  Canada politically  to acquiesce  and effectively                                                               
give up ground on its interests in the Flathead watershed.                                                                      
MS. WEITZ  answered that  folks and tribes  in Montana  and Idaho                                                               
and folks  in British  Columbia, raised so  much stink  about the                                                               
potential of the pollution to the  Flathead.  It was right around                                                               
the time of the Vancouver Olympics,  so lawmakers in BC wanted to                                                               
make this go away by giving them what they wanted.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  remarked  that  he  wonders  what                                                               
leverage the State of Alaska might have with British Columbia.                                                                  
10:35:30 AM                                                                                                                   
TIS   PETERMAN,   Coordinator,    Southeast   Alaska   Indigenous                                                               
Transboundary   Commission  (SEITC),   pointed  out   that  SEITC                                                               
represents 15  federally recognized tribes  in the region  on the                                                               
issue  of transboundary  mining.    The mission  of  SEITC is  to                                                               
protect the  tribal lands and  waterways for  future generations.                                                               
The  organization's  message to  the  committee  is to  encourage                                                               
[Alaska's]  current  administration  to  continue  to  work  with                                                               
British  Columbia through  the  MOU that  was  started under  the                                                               
previous  administration.   The  State of  Alaska  also needs  to                                                               
continue  to support  the  leadership  of Alaska's  Congressional                                                               
Delegation  on  this  issue  and  their  push  for  international                                                               
protections and financial assurances in shared watersheds.                                                                      
MS. PETERMAN stated  that [on 12/5/18] SEITC  presented the Human                                                               
Rights  Petition  to  the  Inter-American  [Commission  on  Human                                                               
Rights]   which  states   that   the   transboundary  mines   are                                                               
threatening the tribes'  way of life.  The Red  Chris Mine on the                                                               
Stikine River has a tailings dam  that was engineered in the same                                                               
way as the  Mount Polley Dam that breached in  2014.  Through the                                                               
efforts of  SEITC and American  Rivers, the Stikine  was recently                                                               
designated as  one of the top  ten most endangered rivers  in the                                                               
U.S.   She related that SEITC  met with First Nations  in British                                                               
Columbia this  past year and  created a Unity Statement  that the                                                               
tribes will  support each other  on transboundary  mining issues.                                                               
A second  meeting is  scheduled for this  fall that  will include                                                               
tribes  from  Washington,  Montana,   and  Idaho  and  that  will                                                               
continue to  build on  this relationship  to protect  the tribes'                                                               
way of life  from the threat of transboundary mining.   Much work                                                               
has been done  with British Columbia First Nations  and this work                                                               
continues today.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR stated  she  is unfamiliar  with the  Inter-                                                               
American [Commission on Human Rights]  and requested Ms. Peterman                                                               
to  elaborate regarding  this commission  and  SEITC's work  with                                                               
this commission.                                                                                                                
MS.  PETERMAN  replied  that the  Inter-American  [Commission  on                                                               
Human  Rights]  hears  international petitions,  which  are  non-                                                               
binding,  but  which provide  a  spotlight  on SEITC's  issue  of                                                               
transboundary  mining.    The  statements  in  the  petition  are                                                               
investigated  by the  commission  and it  usually takes  anywhere                                                               
from two to seven years for the commission's decision.                                                                          
10:39:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRIS SERGEANT,  Research Scientist,  Flathead Lake  Bio Station,                                                               
University of Montana, provided  a PowerPoint presentation titled                                                               
"Assessing mining  impacts on our shared  Alaska-British Columbia                                                               
rivers."   He said  his research  currently focuses  on assessing                                                               
how  mining in  the Taku,  Stikine, and  Unuk rivers  affects the                                                               
health of  their freshwater ecosystems  and includes  three major                                                               
near-term goals.   The first goal is to  inventory and synthesize                                                               
existing data from these rivers.   The second goal is to identify                                                               
knowledge  gaps  and prioritize  future  research  to fill  those                                                               
gaps.   The third goal is  to help create a  larger collaborative                                                               
network of  scientists interested  in this  issue and  working on                                                               
research related to it.                                                                                                         
MR. SERGEANT  turned to the  map on  slide 2 depicting  the three                                                               
transboundary rivers.   He noted  the map also includes  the Nass                                                               
River which  is not transboundary  but fully included  in British                                                               
Columbia.  He  explained that the KSM Mine would  impact both the                                                               
Unuk and  the Nass watersheds if  the mine is built  as proposed.                                                               
The  three transboundary  watersheds make  up over  72,000 square                                                               
kilometers  of drainage  area.   A [2016]  McDowell Group  report                                                               
demonstrated  that activities  taking place  in these  watersheds                                                               
raise about $48 million annually and  almost half of those can be                                                               
attributed to  fisheries-related activities.   Nearly  90 percent                                                               
of households in Southeast Alaska use salmon to some extent.                                                                    
MR.  SERGEANT moved  to slide  3 and  stated that  together these                                                               
three critically  important watersheds  produce about  80 percent                                                               
of Southeast  Alaska's wild chinook  salmon.  From  2007-2018 the                                                               
runs  have  averaged  about  55,000   chinook  salmon  per  year.                                                               
Displaying  slide  4,  he  noted  that  these  biologically  rich                                                               
watersheds are  also rich in  mineral resources.  He  pointed out                                                               
that  the orange  dots and  yellow crosses  on the  map represent                                                               
mining   projects  in   various   stages   of  past   production,                                                               
exploration, development,  or current  operation.  He  added that                                                               
these  symbols  represent only  projects  where  he was  able  to                                                               
extract  basic  information  on mine  location,  operations,  and                                                               
primary mineral resources.  There  are additional places, but the                                                               
information cannot easily be found.                                                                                             
10:42:17 AM                                                                                                                   
MR  SERGEANT  explained that  the  map  on  slide 5  includes  an                                                               
overlay of  all the  active mining claims  and leases  in British                                                               
Columbia, which are  represented by the black  and white shading.                                                               
Overall  across the  three focal  watersheds, 19  percent of  the                                                               
drainage area  is covered in  mining tenures  of some kind.   The                                                               
Unuk  River has  about 59  percent coverage.   When  it comes  to                                                               
ensuring  the sustained  health  of Alaska's  shared rivers  with                                                               
British Columbia  and their valuable ecosystem  services, such as                                                               
clean  water  and  abundant  salmon, the  map  shows  how  mining                                                               
impacts must be carefully considered  in close collaboration with                                                               
Canada  and  continue  to  stress the  need  for  consistency  in                                                               
scientific methods used on both sides of the border.                                                                            
MR. SERGEANT displayed  slide 6 and stated he  believes there are                                                               
several immediately  apparent messages  to pass on  where science                                                               
can be improved  to better aid decision makers.   First is better                                                               
monitoring,  such as  increased frequency  of measurement.   Many                                                               
projects  only measure  important  chemicals such  as mercury  or                                                               
selenium on  a monthly or  quarterly timestep.  But,  in general,                                                               
this is  nowhere nearly frequent  enough to detect  increasing or                                                               
decreasing trends in these chemicals  over time.  It is important                                                               
to  create  a solid  baseline  of  information before  a  project                                                               
begins  by  doing more  years  of  monitoring and  more  frequent                                                               
measurements  to   properly  assess  the  potential   impacts  of                                                               
proposed mining projects.                                                                                                       
10:44:02 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  inquired whether Mr.  Sergeant is  currently seeing                                                               
any adverse effects from these mines on these rivers.                                                                           
MR. SERGEANT  replied that in a  lot of cases it  is difficult to                                                               
even assess.   For example,  there are annual  monitoring reports                                                               
on the  Red Chris Mine on  the Stikine River, and  while they are                                                               
extensive,  they are  confusingly  structured and  do not  follow                                                               
normal  scientific  conventions for  writing  reports.   In  some                                                               
cases, data is missing and not  yet available.  There is evidence                                                               
that there could be adverse effects,  but it is hard to assess at                                                               
this  time until  [scientists]  get more  information.   For  the                                                               
Tulsequah Chief  Mine on the  Taku River, there  are demonstrated                                                               
effects over  time of acid  mine drainage in the  river affecting                                                               
water quality and fish populations.                                                                                             
CHAIR  STUTES  asked  how  long  the  Red  Chris  Mine  has  been                                                               
MR. SERGEANT  responded that the  Red Chris Mine has  operated in                                                               
the headwaters of the Stikine River since 2014.                                                                                 
CHAIR STUTES inquired about the Tulsequah Chief Mine.                                                                           
MR.  SERGEANT  answered  that  the  Tulsequah  Chief  Mine  ended                                                               
operations in 1957.   A series of owners have  purchased the mine                                                               
and attempted to restart it  but have gone subsequently bankrupt.                                                               
Currently,  British Columbia  has contracted  a remediation  plan                                                               
for the mine  that is now being actively worked  on and hopefully                                                               
it  will  lead to  full  reclamation  of  the site.    Responding                                                               
further,  he  said   the  Tulsequah  Chief  Mine   has  not  been                                                               
operational for over six decades.                                                                                               
10:45:54 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR, regarding circumstances  where the damage is                                                               
done,  asked  whether Mr.  Sergeant's  work  is evaluating  other                                                               
infrastructure   or  modifications   that  could   be  done   for                                                               
MR. SERGEANT confirmed he is in  the early stages.  He said there                                                               
are places like  Tulsequah Chief that are  extremely important to                                                               
clean up.   However, he continued, most of the  mines depicted in                                                               
orange on  the map  are proposed  projects.   There is  an urgent                                                               
need  to get  the baseline  data that  is not  yet had  to assess                                                               
their impacts and to  see what can be done on  the Alaska side to                                                               
collect  better  scientific  data  consistently and  be  able  to                                                               
answer questions  about what  the impacts would  be if  the mines                                                               
are built as proposed.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR  inquired   whether   there  are   "midway"                                                               
opportunities   that   could   be  done,   such   as   structural                                                               
modifications,  to  improve  the overall  outlook  for  potential                                                               
MR.  SERGEANT replied  yes.    He qualified  that  he  is not  an                                                               
engineering expert, but  that there are people  who have proposed                                                               
different types  of tailings dam  constructions that  would lower                                                               
the  risk  for  major  impacts  in the  future.    These  include                                                               
improvements such as dry tailings  and different types of earthen                                                               
dam construction  that are more  structurally sound than  what is                                                               
seen today.                                                                                                                     
10:47:52 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES recalled seeing a  presentation several years ago by                                                               
professors  from the  University  of Montana.   The  presentation                                                               
pertained to  a mine in  Canada causing detrimental effects  on a                                                               
river going  into Glacier National  Park from a chemical  that no                                                               
one knew  existed and a  wastewater treatment plant built  by the                                                               
mining company has had no effect on that specific chemical.                                                                     
MR. SERGEANT  offered his belief  that the presentation  may have                                                               
been  provided  by Rick  Hauer  or  a  colleague  of his  at  the                                                               
University of Montana and was  about the coal mining happening on                                                               
the Elk River.   Selenium was the element of  interest because it                                                               
was unknown that it was going  to be such a negative pollutant on                                                               
the system.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR STUTES  remarked that  she found  it very  alarming because                                                               
there was no idea at the time as to what even to look for.                                                                      
10:49:26 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. SERGEANT  returned to  his review  of slide  6 and  said [the                                                               
second  way]  science could  better  aid  decision makers  is  by                                                               
improving data  quality and transparency.   For example,  many of                                                               
the mining  reports or environmental assessments  he has reviewed                                                               
are  overly  long  and  structured in  a  confusing  manner  that                                                               
doesn't  follow  usual  scientific conventions,  which  makes  it                                                               
difficult  for  experts  to review  and  confidently  assess  the                                                               
presented data.  Often data  collection methods are not described                                                               
in  enough detail  to assess  whether  they were  collected in  a                                                               
defensible manner.   In general,  there is  a need for  a greater                                                               
use of  independent third-party environmental science  experts to                                                               
conduct research and monitoring activities for these projects.                                                                  
MR. SERGEANT said  the third way that science can  be improved to                                                               
better aid  decision makers  is cumulative  impact analysis.   He                                                               
noted  that the  Iskut  River  is the  largest  tributary to  the                                                               
Stikine  River and  multiple projects  are taking  place on  this                                                               
tributary.     But,  he   continued,  during   the  environmental                                                               
assessment  project, typically  only the  single project  impacts                                                               
are looked at.  The question needs  to be asked - What do five or                                                               
six  projects happening  in an  adjacent area  do to  a river  or                                                               
drainage area and  how can those be assessed  cumulatively?  This                                                               
is what is  done in the National Environmental  Policy Act (NEPA)                                                               
process in the U.S.                                                                                                             
10:50:52 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. SERGEANT concluded his presentation  by visualizing what low-                                                               
grade ore mining looks like for a  mine such as the KSM.  Showing                                                               
slide 7,  he said environmental  reports related to the  KSM Mine                                                               
state that the average yield per  metric ton, or 2,200 pounds, of                                                               
mined  rock is  0.5 grams,  or  0.02 ounces,  of gold.   Using  a                                                               
standard   sea  salt   grinder   purchased  from   a  store,   he                                                               
demonstrated that 0.02  ounces of salt would be  about two twists                                                               
of the saltshaker  and said that since salt is  much lighter than                                                               
gold it  would be even  less gold.  Turning  to slide 8,  he drew                                                               
attention to  his wedding  ring and reported  that it  would take                                                               
about 23,520  pounds of rock  to produce the  6 grams of  gold in                                                               
his ring and another 23,520 pounds  for the 6 grams in his wife's                                                               
matching  ring.   These  tradeoffs  need  to be  considered  when                                                               
talking  about low-grade  ore mining,  which  is associated  with                                                               
large open pits.  He urged  the committee to continue its support                                                               
for the pursuit of rigorous,  objective, and consistently applied                                                               
science on both sides of the  border to help protect the precious                                                               
ecosystems that people depend on.                                                                                               
10:53:14 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID LANDIS,  Mayor, Ketchikan  Gateway Borough,  testified that                                                               
the Ketchikan Gateway Borough by  resolution has repeatedly urged                                                               
the  State of  Alaska and  federal  government to  work with  the                                                               
Canadian  government to  ensure  that Alaskan  resources are  not                                                               
harmed by upstream  mining development in British  Columbia.  The                                                               
borough  also  requested that  the  concerns  of salmon  advocacy                                                               
groups  on these  issues  be  heard and  considered.   These  are                                                               
significant  issues  for  the coastal  communities  of  Southeast                                                               
Alaska given  the region's local  economies are deeply  rooted in                                                               
the  seafood  industry.    Commercial  fishing,  processing,  and                                                               
marine support services directly comprise  a large portion of the                                                               
region's  economies and  virtually every  business benefits  from                                                               
these commercial fishing dollars.   Tourism is another large part                                                               
of Southeast Alaska's  economy that is connected  to the region's                                                               
pristine waters.   As  well there  is the  recreational, personal                                                               
use,  and subsistence  way of  life that  the region's  residents                                                               
have enjoyed for many generations.                                                                                              
MAYOR LANDIS related that the  Ketchikan Gateway Borough believes                                                               
the State of  Alaska must seek enforceable  protections through a                                                               
binding framework between  the U.S. and Canada.   Alaska needs to                                                               
do  everything it  can  to  protect Alaskans  from  the risks  of                                                               
potential contamination from the  Canadian mines upstream.  Since                                                               
2014  Canada  has  allowed  two   mines  in  transboundary  river                                                               
watersheds  to  begin operation  -  the  Red  Chris Mine  in  the                                                               
Stikine  watershed and  the Bruce  Jack  Mine in  the Unuk  River                                                               
watershed.   In addition, the  Canadian federal government  is in                                                               
the planning and  permitting stages of several  other projects in                                                               
these watersheds,  including the  Taku.   Alaskans deserve  to be                                                               
confident  that  there  are  enforceable  measures  in  place  to                                                               
prevent  the  contamination  of  shared  Alaska-British  Columbia                                                               
transboundary  watersheds.    Alaskans  also need  to  know  that                                                               
emergency response  plans and financial assurances  to compensate                                                               
fishermen and  communities are in  place if the waters  do suffer                                                               
damage.   These enforceable protections and  financial assurances                                                               
can only be secured through a binding international framework.                                                                  
MAYOR  LANDIS  added  that  in his  professional  career  he  has                                                               
conducted several risk assessments  for companies and programs as                                                               
part  of their  best business  practices and  therefore tends  to                                                               
view  many issues  through  that lens.    He requested  committee                                                               
members to  imagine an  X-Y axis  graph with  one axis  being the                                                               
likelihood of  occurrence and the  other axis being  the severity                                                               
of  the impact.    If  something has  a  very  low likelihood  of                                                               
occurrence  and a  low  impact, then  those  activities could  be                                                               
viewed  as having  acceptable  risk.   At the  other  end of  the                                                               
spectrum are  issues which  have a  high likelihood  of happening                                                               
and  severe impact,  and those  are the  highest risk  areas that                                                               
should  be addressed  with  the highest  priorities.   The  other                                                               
quadrants,  then,  of  this  graph  are risks  that  need  to  be                                                               
addressed  with  various  degrees of  management  and  monitoring                                                               
efforts.   The transboundary mine  development, he  submitted, is                                                               
squarely  in  the  categories  with  very  severe  impact  and  a                                                               
moderate likelihood for that occurrence.   While he would like to                                                               
say  that there  is a  low  likelihood for  having problems,  the                                                               
evidence does  not bear that out.   Given a risk  profile such as                                                               
this, it  would be appropriate to  secure enforceable protections                                                               
and   financial  assurances   through  a   binding  international                                                               
10:57:48 AM                                                                                                                   
FRANCES  LEACH, Executive  Director, United  Fishermen of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA), related that  UFA is a statewide  commercial fishing trade                                                               
organization  representing  36   commercial  fishing  groups  and                                                               
hundreds of fishermen and crew  members throughout Alaska.  Since                                                               
2012 UFA has  been involved in transboundary  issues in Southeast                                                               
Alaska.   Thirteen of UFA's member  group organizations represent                                                               
fishermen who  fish for salmon,  shrimp, crab, and  other species                                                               
in the  waters of Southeast  Alaska.  Southeast  fishermen employ                                                               
hand troll,  power troll, driftnet, purse  seine, longline, pots,                                                               
and  dive gear  to  harvest  their catch.    United Fishermen  of                                                               
Alaska is  increasingly concerned  with the potential  impacts to                                                               
fish  habitat in  water resources  from at  least 12  large-scale                                                               
open pit  and underground  metal mines  in British  Columbia that                                                               
are  abandoned,  permitted, or  operating  in  the headwaters  of                                                               
transboundary rivers that flow  downstream into Southeast Alaska.                                                               
The transboundary Taku, Stikine, and  Unuk rivers are world class                                                               
salmon  producing rivers  contributing  $48  million to  Alaska's                                                               
economy  and  producing 80  percent  of  Southeast Alaska's  king                                                               
salmon.   These  rivers are  integral to  the overall  $1 billion                                                               
annual salmon fishing industry and  the $1 billion annual visitor                                                               
industry in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                   
MS. LEACH  stated UFA strongly  urges that  [Alaska's] government                                                               
officials work with the government  of British Columbia to ensure                                                               
that  substantial and  appropriate  financial assurances,  impact                                                               
assessments, and  long-term monitoring plans are  established and                                                               
funded  prior to  the issuance  of permits  for mining  projects.                                                               
Financial assurances must include  provisions to compensate fully                                                               
the  State of  Alaska and  its fishing  industry in  the face  of                                                               
catastrophic or  accumulative impacts.   The State of  Alaska has                                                               
previously  requested  that  British Columbia  require  companies                                                               
operating  mines within  the transboundary  watershed  to post  a                                                               
full reclamation bond prior to  permitting as the State of Alaska                                                               
currently  requires.   United Fishermen  of  Alaska continues  to                                                               
support this  request to  ensure that  the state's  resources are                                                               
not  harmed by  Canadian large-scale  mining developments  in the                                                               
headwaters of  transboundary salmon rivers.   United Fishermen of                                                               
Alaska asks that  this work continue, and  this important message                                                               
carried forward in future engagements with British Columbia.                                                                    
11:00:36 AM                                                                                                                   
NIKKI SKUCE, Director, Northern  Confluence, stated that Northern                                                               
Confluence  is an  initiative whose  mission is  to conserve  the                                                               
salmon  watersheds  that   sustain  communities,  economies,  and                                                               
shared futures.   To do  that, Northern Confluence is  working on                                                               
things like modernizing  the Federal Fisheries Act  and trying to                                                               
create better mining policies for  this region because many mines                                                               
are  operating,  proposed,  or  under  exploration  in  Northwest                                                               
British Columbia.  Mining has a  long history in BC and continues                                                               
to  play an  important role  in  many BC  communities.   However,                                                               
mining can  also cause catastrophic  and long-lasting  impacts to                                                               
fish, water, wildlife,  and human health.  The  industry can also                                                               
impose massive  economic liabilities on taxpayers  if mining laws                                                               
are not strong enough.                                                                                                          
MS. SKUCE said mines in  British Columbia need careful regulation                                                               
to  ensure  that  mining   companies  adopt  sound  environmental                                                               
practices  and pay  for their  position  costs.   Nongovernmental                                                               
organizations,  academics,   and  community   organizations  have                                                               
identified that  British Columbia's regulatory system  for mining                                                               
needs  comprehensive reform.    This is  supported  by a  growing                                                               
volume of evidence  for systemic failures in  the current system,                                                               
starting  with  the  2014  Mount   Polley  Mine  disaster,  which                                                               
deposited  about 10,000  Olympic sized  swimming pools'  worth of                                                               
mine waste into one of the  most productive salmon systems in the                                                               
Fraser  watershed.   It has  resulted  in zero  fines or  charges                                                               
against the company and no compensation to impacted communities.                                                                
MS.  SKUCE related  that a  2016  report by  the auditor  general                                                               
found British  Columbia's enforcement  and compliance  regime for                                                               
mining to  be woefully inadequate.   It is also known  that there                                                               
is taxpayer  liability of  more than $1  billion in  mine cleanup                                                               
costs across British Columbia.   A hiker recently discovered that                                                               
the government has  not inspected a closed Jordan  River mine for                                                               
over 20  years, allowing the  unprotected ongoing  destruction of                                                               
the once-productive  salmon river.   Public awareness  is growing                                                               
about  potential impacts  that mining  can have  on fisheries  in                                                               
British Columbia's  watersheds, as well as  ongoing permitting of                                                               
wastewater into lakes and river systems.                                                                                        
MS.  SKUCE  said many  mining  conflicts  arise because  [British                                                               
Columbia's]  mineral tender  system allows  for claims  to go  on                                                               
private  property or  to go  through without  First Nations  Free                                                               
Prior Informed  Consent and  often ignores land  use plans.   The                                                               
Tulsequah Chief  Mine's legacy  is decades  of ongoing  acid mine                                                               
leakage into the  Taku River system.  There  is selenium leaching                                                               
in the  Elk Valley, as  well as  others.  Growing  evidence shows                                                               
the serious  systemic shortcomings  of British  Columbia's mining                                                               
regulatory   regime   that   undermines  public   confidence   in                                                               
government's  ability  to  protect  the public  interest  and  to                                                               
assure that companies pay the cost of their pollution.                                                                          
11:04:10 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. SKUCE  announced the  impending launch of  the BC  Mining Law                                                               
Reform  [Network] comprised  of academics,  NGOs, and  community-                                                               
based groups, which will include  releasing a platform of several                                                               
mining law reform briefs.   The network has identified three main                                                               
priorities that it  will push for change.  The  first priority is                                                               
to  encourage  the British  Columbia  government  to enforce  and                                                               
reform  its laws  to make  sure that  mining companies  and their                                                               
shareholders  pay for  cleaning up  all the  environmental damage                                                               
they cause.   Mining reclamation policy is a  commitment that was                                                               
made post-Mount Polley and there  is some progress that is likely                                                               
to come in  the next couple months and pressure  is being applied                                                               
now  to hopefully  ensure that  it raises  the bar.   The  second                                                               
priority  is to  look at  an industry  fund for  victims of  mine                                                               
pollution disasters and  insufficiently cleaned up sites.   It is                                                               
thought  that this  could also  be a  potential opportunity  that                                                               
would include  states and regions  beyond British Columbia.   The                                                               
third priority  is to look  at ensuring that  mineral exploration                                                               
laws  shift to  respect modern  values  so that  no-go zones  are                                                               
respected, and  Free Prior Informed Consent  of indigenous people                                                               
is  required.     The  third  priority  is   about  getting  more                                                               
protection for BC's waters and communities from mining waste.                                                                   
MS. SKUCE noted  that there are different ways of  mining and the                                                               
Mount  Polley  recommendations  push  for  encouraging  backfill,                                                               
dewatering, and/or dry  stack tailings.  However,  the needle has                                                               
not been  moved much  in this  regard.   While some  minerals and                                                               
resources mined in  BC are going to be needed  to transition to a                                                               
better energy  future, the task is  to do it right,  and Alaskans                                                               
should  be concerned  with  the  state of  BC's  mining laws  and                                                               
enforcement in the  shared salmon watersheds.   She expressed her                                                               
hope that  everyone can help  create the conditions  for positive                                                               
change to move toward more responsible mining in BC.                                                                            
11:06:47 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR asked  whether Smithers'  remoteness affects                                                               
Ms. Skuce's ability to have political influence with her work.                                                                  
MS.  SKUCE  replied  that the  sparse  populations  of  Southeast                                                               
Alaska and  British Columbia are  part of their beauty  and value                                                               
that allow  these ecosystems to  live.  However, she  allowed, it                                                               
does make  organizing a lot harder.   She said Smithers  is along                                                               
the Highway  16 corridor  and has lots  of ongoing  mining, which                                                               
gives her  a unique perspective  to ground things in  reality and                                                               
to  hear  from people  working  in  the  industry.   Smithers  is                                                               
represented  by  the  Ministry of  Forests,  Lands,  and  Natural                                                               
Resource Operations  and Rural Development,  which is  helpful in                                                               
terms of  political influence.   But, creating  greater influence                                                               
or pushing for  change requires allying with others  and that was                                                               
part  of  the motivation  in  forming  the mining  law  coalition                                                               
comprised of people from throughout the province.                                                                               
11:09:00 AM                                                                                                                   
ROBYN ALLAN,  Independent Economist, specified she  has a 40-year                                                               
career in  senior executive positions  in the public  and private                                                               
sectors  and  her expertise  is  in  risk management,  insurance,                                                               
public policy, and  energy economics.  She was  the president and                                                               
CEO of  the largest auto insurer  in Canada and she  authored the                                                               
2016   report,  "Toward   Financial  Responsibility   in  British                                                               
Columbia's Mining  Industry."   She cautioned  that the  State of                                                               
Alaska  cannot rely  upon  the Province  of  British Columbia  to                                                               
protect  downstream  interests   threatened  by  upstream  mining                                                               
activity.  The  environmental assessment, monitoring, compliance,                                                               
and   financial  assurances   regime  in   British  Columbia   is                                                               
effectively  dysfunctional.   The environment  and the  public on                                                               
both sides  of the  Canadian and U.S.  border face  serious long-                                                               
term risk, loss, and cost because of BC's substandard system.                                                                   
MS. ALLAN said her focus today  is on full funding of liabilities                                                               
as  a   key  feature  of  an   environmentally  and  commercially                                                               
responsible regime.   For a  financial assurances regime  to work                                                               
there  are  three steps.    The  first  step  is to  ensure  mine                                                               
reclamation  estimates, the  estimate that  is made  to calculate                                                               
the cost of returning the environment  to the state it was before                                                               
the mining permit  was granted.  Mine  reclamation estimates must                                                               
be  accurate and  reliable  - this  is not  the  case in  British                                                               
Columbia.    The  second  step  is  to  ensure  that  reclamation                                                               
liabilities are  fully funded - this  is not the case  in British                                                               
Columbia.   Finally,  the risk  of unintended  events, such  as a                                                               
tailings  pond breach,  must be  evaluated upfront  and the  mine                                                               
operator  required  to prove  access  to  financial resources  to                                                               
respond and  compensate for unintended  damage - this is  not the                                                               
case  in   British  Columbia.     British   Columbia's  financial                                                               
assurances regime fails on all three accounts.                                                                                  
11:11:26 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  ALLAN stated  that mine  reclamation liabilities  in BC  are                                                               
underestimated  and most  mining  companies are  not required  to                                                               
provide  full funding  for the  reclamation obligations  that are                                                               
estimated.   For example, Teck  Resources is BC's  single largest                                                               
mining owner  with more than  a dozen mines.   This is  where the                                                               
selenium  issue identified  by Chair  Stutes comes  in and  it is                                                               
very relevant.  Teck Resources  has selenium discharge challenges                                                               
and because  the company doesn't  understand how to deal  with it                                                               
the  company doesn't  estimate it  in the  liability requirement.                                                               
"You can't  price what you don't  see and that's the  first major                                                               
problem we're  dealing with in  BC," she  said.  She  pointed out                                                               
that Teck Resources owns the Red Dog  Mine in Alaska.  Red Dog is                                                               
expected  to  require  water  treatment  in  perpetuity.    Water                                                               
treatment  costs are  incorporated in  its reclamation  estimate.                                                               
Teck has fully  funded the $563 million obligation at  Red Dog by                                                               
posting  a bond  with the  State of  Alaska.   Teck's reclamation                                                               
liability  for  its  more  than  a dozen  BC  mines  totals  $1.7                                                               
billion, but  BC requires only  $789 million in funding.   Teck's                                                               
underestimated and  unfunded obligation is almost  $1 billion and                                                               
that is  what can be  seen.  This  funding gap puts  taxpayers at                                                               
risk and incentivizes business decisions  that fall short of best                                                               
MS. ALLAN  advised that  the Province  of British  Columbia would                                                               
only need to  adopt the Alaskan model that  requires full funding                                                               
of  reclamation  to  bring  its   system  more  in  line  with  a                                                               
comprehensive and robust approach.   British Columbia already has                                                               
the regulatory authority to do  so since funding requirements are                                                               
at the  discretion of the  Chief Inspector of  Mines.  Why  is BC                                                               
dragging its  heels?  If  there were one  step that the  State of                                                               
Alaska could  take to protect  its environment and  therefore its                                                               
economy,  it would  be to  work to  ensure that  BC introduces  a                                                               
financial  assurances  program  on  par with  Alaska's;  that  BC                                                               
require   full  funding   of  accurately   estimated  reclamation                                                               
liabilities  throughout  the  lifecycle  of  every  existing  and                                                               
future mine.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STUTES  thanked  Ms.  Allan   for  her  very  enlightening                                                               
11:13:50 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked whether financial assurance  means the                                                               
comprehensive financial responsibility for  all the upfront items                                                               
for any risk, the full reclamation, and ongoing monitoring.                                                                     
MS. ALLAN  replied, "Yes,  absolutely."   For example,  in Alaska                                                               
the analysis  in perpetuity is  done with a discounted  cash flow                                                               
formula and therefore  the money is expected to be  there to meet                                                               
the obligations  - forever.   British Columbia doesn't  have that                                                               
system.   It is full  funding of obligations that  are permitted,                                                               
so it  is the  intended harm that  occurs when  mining activities                                                               
take place - that is estimated  and must be fully funded upfront.                                                               
Through  the  lifecycle of  the  mine  there can  be  reclamation                                                               
undertaken and  therefore maybe obligations  fall, but  the money                                                               
is  always  in reserve  so  that  taxpayers and  the  environment                                                               
aren't left  on the hook.   When  it comes to  unintended results                                                               
like the Mount Polley event, the  first thing to be understood is                                                               
that  if  there  is  full  funding  of  reclamation  obligations,                                                               
businesses make better  decisions to avoid those  kinds of events                                                               
from  happening  in the  first  place.    If best  practices  are                                                               
followed, the likelihood of accidents  or unintended harm is much                                                               
lower.  Secondly, by having a  best practices program in place an                                                               
estimate is made  as to the likelihood of  unintended events even                                                               
if  all the  best decisions  possible  have been  made.   Upfront                                                               
needs to be  assurance or other mechanisms in place  to make sure                                                               
that  financial resources  are there  if those  accidents happen.                                                               
That was not the  case with Mount Polley.  So,  it is through the                                                               
lifecycle and for both intended and unintended harm.                                                                            
11:16:05 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR noted that a  criticism of Alaska's system is                                                               
that the  state's bond amounts are  too low, so not  enough is in                                                               
place to fully  cover the cost of reclamation  and full recovery.                                                               
She asked whether Ms. Allan  thinks Alaska could be successful in                                                               
getting the financial assurances for the full amount.                                                                           
MS. ALLAN  responded that  that speaks to  the need  for rigorous                                                               
liability estimated  frameworks.  She  said there is  no question                                                               
that the  estimation of the  liabilities could be enhanced.   For                                                               
example, in  BC the full funding  is not had, which  is a double-                                                               
stage problem.   When estimation processes are  more rigorous and                                                               
the bonding requirements  go up because all parties  agree in the                                                               
polluter pay  principle, if the  financial resources  couldn't be                                                               
put  in  place then  the  mining  activity shouldn't  take  place                                                               
because the long  term cost/benefit suggests it is  going to cost                                                               
the economy, the environment, and  the communities more than it's                                                               
worth.     She  said  she   absolutely  endorses   more  rigorous                                                               
estimation  processes, but  the very  first step  and significant                                                               
benefit would  be if  there was  a level  playing field  with the                                                               
bonding first  at the least,  even if that  is in the  process of                                                               
also looking at estimation.                                                                                                     
11:18:20 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE referenced a  previous slide that showed one                                                               
of the  areas was  59 percent  covered with  mining leases.   She                                                               
further recalled a previous  committee hearing about [aquaculture                                                               
farms] and  that [an aquaculture  farm] cannot take up  more than                                                               
one-third of  the area of a  bay to ensure access  to other users                                                               
of the  bay.  She inquired  whether there is something  like this                                                               
for mining in  a region, such that there would  be limitations on                                                               
the scale.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR STUTES stated it might be  a difficult thing to get through                                                               
and she doesn't know if anything like that exists.                                                                              
MS.  ALLAN pointed  out that  Representative Vance's  question is                                                               
speaking  to  the  cumulative  impact   analysis,  which  is  not                                                               
rigorous  enough to  recognize that  eventually if  the model  is                                                               
taken to the  extreme there is nothing left in  terms of the land                                                               
base.   She  said  the  cumulative impacts  that  were spoken  to                                                               
earlier today  would help  to address  the problem  identified by                                                               
Representative Vance.                                                                                                           
MS. WEITZ  added that  cumulative impacts  are not  a requirement                                                               
for  the environmental  assessment process  in BC.   So,  when an                                                               
exploration permit or development  permit is applied for, British                                                               
Columbia looks at it on  a project-by-project basis rather than a                                                               
watershed  scale.   That is  absolutely  one of  the things  that                                                               
Salmon Beyond  Borders finds inadequate  within that  process and                                                               
one in which SBB is working with partners to get improved.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  inquired whether Alaska's  process includes                                                               
the practices of cumulative effects.                                                                                            
MS. WEITZ answered yes.                                                                                                         
11:21:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR referred to the  map provided by Mr. Sergeant                                                               
that  depicted   the  past  producers,  exploratory   mines,  and                                                               
developing mines  using orange circles  and yellow crosses.   She                                                               
asked whether  something occurred politically that  so many mines                                                               
are happening right now.                                                                                                        
MS. WEITZ  replied that completion of  the Northwest Transmission                                                               
Line  in 2014  brought power  to this  region.   There are  about                                                               
2,000  people in  Northwest British  Columbia, whereas  there are                                                               
75,000 people in Southeast Alaska.   Thus, power is generating to                                                               
a  very mineral  rich region  where there  aren't many  people to                                                               
organize and  have a voice,  and there is the  productivity shown                                                               
on that map.                                                                                                                    
11:23:22 AM                                                                                                                   
JASON  DION,  Lead  Researcher,  Canada's  Ecofiscal  Commission,                                                               
provided a  presentation titled  "Financial assurance  for mining                                                               
in  British Columbia."   Addressing  slide 3,  he explained  that                                                               
Canada's  Ecofiscal Commission  is a  policy thinktank  in Canada                                                               
comprised  of experienced,  policy-minded economists  from across                                                               
Canada.   The commission focuses  on environmental issues  of all                                                               
types,  but  particularly those  where  there  is the  scope  for                                                               
taxes,  or pricing,  or markets  to deliver  solutions that  make                                                               
sense for both  the environment and the economy.   The commission                                                               
provides  advice to  governments of  all stripes  and is  a fully                                                               
independent not-for-profit organization.                                                                                        
MR. DION  turned to slide  4 and  said the commission  released a                                                               
report last year  titled "Responsible Risk" for which  he was the                                                               
lead researcher.  The report  focused on risks to the environment                                                               
from  economic  activity   and  how  they  can   be  managed  and                                                               
addressed.  Mining  was looked at as a case  study and approaches                                                               
to it  in five Canadian  jurisdictions.  In particular,  the tool                                                               
of financial assurance was looked at  as a way of putting a price                                                               
on risk as  a way of managing  it.  He is currently  engaged on a                                                               
new report, "Mining Risk and  Responsibility: How Putting a Price                                                               
on Risk Can  Help BC Manage Disasters," which  focuses on British                                                               
Columbia's policy.                                                                                                              
MR.  DION moved  to slide  5 and  stated there  are two  types of                                                               
environmental  risk that  are different  problems  that call  for                                                               
different solutions:   1) the risk of non-remediation  of a mine,                                                               
and 2)  the risk of  disasters.   Showing slide 6,  he elaborated                                                               
that when  it comes to  remediation the likelihood is  very high,                                                               
or 100  percent, of some degree  of environmental damage.   It is                                                               
known that harm will occur, and the  risk is who will pay for it,                                                               
how large it will be, and whether  it gets cleaned up.  But it is                                                               
different with a  disaster where the disaster is  not expected to                                                               
occur but  is probabilistic.  The  two types of risk  also differ                                                               
in the  severity of costs.   Remediation can be a  broad spectrum                                                               
of costs  from small to  very large,  while disasters tend  to be                                                               
much more  severe when they do  occur.  However, these  two types                                                               
of  risk are  treated  quite differently  in financial  assurance                                                               
policy  in British  Columbia:   remediation is  covered, although                                                               
there are  shortcomings, and disasters are  completely uncovered.                                                               
While  that   is  quite  common   when  it  comes   to  different                                                               
jurisdictions'  approach  to mining  sector  polity,  it is  very                                                               
uncommon  when  it   comes  to  sectors  that  pose   a  risk  of                                                               
environmental  disaster.   Sectors  like  offshore  oil and  gas,                                                               
pipelines,  nuclear  power,  and tanker  traffic  typically  must                                                               
provide  some degree  of financial  assurance.   So, it  is quite                                                               
unusual that that doesn't occur in the mining sector.                                                                           
11:26:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  DION displayed  slide 7  and stated  that policy  focused on                                                               
environmental risk  is made complicated  because there  are three                                                               
separate and competing  goals at play.   Finance assurance policy                                                               
is  no  different, he  added.    The  first goal  is  deterrence.                                                               
Policy makers want  to create incentives for  companies to reduce                                                               
the risk they might pose to  the environment.  The second goal is                                                               
compensation.   Should  harm occur,  policy makers  want to  make                                                               
sure that the public doesn't get  stuck with the bill.  The third                                                               
goal  is economic  activity.   Policy  makers  want to  encourage                                                               
production  investment in  order  to benefit  from  the jobs  and                                                               
income it  creates.  The  tension is  that these three  goals can                                                               
sometimes be at odds with each other.                                                                                           
MR. DION  showed slide 8  and defined financial assurance  as any                                                               
requirements  where firms  must promise  or commit  funds against                                                               
their environmental  liabilities, whether  those are  expected or                                                               
potential environmental  liabilities.  The importance  of this is                                                               
that it gives  companies a financial incentive to  reduce risk to                                                               
the  environment.    The  commission's  report  breaks  financial                                                               
assurance into  five main  types:   1) Hard  firm-level assurance                                                               
where  companies provide  cash or  bonds that  are held  in trust                                                               
against  a risk;  2) Soft  firm-level  assurance where  companies                                                               
pledge assets  or guarantees, which  aren't as certain  or stable                                                               
in value  and can  become unavailable  in certain  conditions; 3)                                                               
Pooling instruments,  or third  party assurance,  where insurers,                                                               
banks, or  other lenders or  capital providers are brought  in to                                                               
provide  insurance,  letters  of  credit,  or  surety  bonds;  4)                                                               
Sector-level  assurance  where the  sector  comes  together as  a                                                               
whole  to pool  their  risks through  mutual  insurance or  using                                                               
industry funds;  and 5) Public  assurance where  public insurance                                                               
or public  funds are used.   He  noted that public  assurance has                                                               
the potential  to pool risk not  only within a sector  but across                                                               
several sectors.                                                                                                                
11:28:31 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. DION turned to slide 9  and addressed the effects of the five                                                               
types  of financial  assurance on  the  three policy  goals.   He                                                               
advised  that none  of the  financial  assurances provide  strong                                                               
outcomes  across  all  three policy  goals  and  therefore,  when                                                               
pursuing financial  assurance policy,  it is  always a  matter of                                                               
striking a balance across these competing priorities.                                                                           
MR.  DION moved  to  slide 10  and  discussed British  Columbia's                                                               
current  approach to  mining sector  financial assurance  policy.                                                               
He said  the Chief Inspector of  Mines in BC has  broad authority                                                               
to  require  financial assurance  from  mining  firms; BC  has  a                                                               
"polluter-pay" policy  in place; and  in BC mining  companies are                                                               
required to provide financial assurance  against the risk of non-                                                               
remediation, but not against disasters.   On paper, he continued,                                                               
those three  points taken together  suggest there is a  scope for                                                               
British Columbia to have some  stringent and meaningful financial                                                               
assurance.   However, the problem  as highlighted by  the Auditor                                                               
General of  British Columbia  [in 2016] is  that in  practice the                                                               
stringency tends  to be  limited, largely  due to  the province's                                                               
practice of  phasing in financial  assurance requirements  over a                                                               
mine's life.   Earlier  in a  mine's life  it might  be providing                                                               
those softer  forms of  assurance, such as  good credit  and good                                                               
standing of  a company,  which isn't  necessarily as  reliable as                                                               
holding a bond or other types of security.                                                                                      
MR.  DION displayed  slide 11  and  said two  conclusions can  be                                                               
drawn about British Columbia's current  approach to mining sector                                                               
financial  assurance  policy.    First, when  it  comes  to  mine                                                               
remediation in BC,  there is no guarantee that  the polluter will                                                               
pay, despite the  polluter-pay policy that is in  place.  Second,                                                               
if a  Mount Polley-like disaster  were to  occur again in  BC and                                                               
the responsible  company was bankrupted,  a large share  of those                                                               
costs would  likely fall to the  public.  The problem  with these                                                               
two findings is  that when a company knows it  might not bear all                                                               
the  costs of  a risk  it poses  in terms  of the  harm it  might                                                               
cause, the  company has less  of an economic incentive  to reduce                                                               
that risk, which is a very important shortcoming.                                                                               
11:30:36 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  DION moved  to slide  13  and stated  that the  commission's                                                               
recommendation  regarding  financial  assurance policy  for  mine                                                               
remediation  is   that  British  Columbia  should   require  hard                                                               
assurance - full  bonding - from firms.  He  said the province of                                                               
Quebec is  a strong  example of  the way that  this can  be done.                                                               
Following  some mining  sector reforms  in 2013  that were  quite                                                               
broad  in scope,  changes were  also made  to Quebec's  financial                                                               
assurance policy where  firms must put up bonds  within two years                                                               
of commencing  operations that  are the  full value  of potential                                                               
remediation costs.   No distinction  is made for  financial risk,                                                               
so big and small companies  alike must provide that full bonding.                                                               
Important about Quebec's  example is that despite  an initial dip                                                               
Quebec  has continued  since then  to rank  strongly on  economic                                                               
activity  indicators for  mining.   This  shows that  there is  a                                                               
clear  precedent in  Quebec for  having more  stringent financial                                                               
assurance  policy that  doesn't necessarily  have to  be at  odds                                                               
with British Columbia's economic activity goals in this sector.                                                                 
MR.  DION  turned  to  slide 14  and  reviewed  the  commission's                                                               
recommendation  regarding  financial  assurance policy  for  mine                                                               
disasters,  which is  that British  Columbia  should implement  a                                                               
"tiered"  scheme.   This is  where different  types of  financial                                                               
assurance are brought in in  tranches to cover against that risk.                                                               
The firm itself might provide  a measure of assurance against it.                                                               
Beyond this, third  party coverage would kick  in, say, insurance                                                               
coverage, that would eventually cap out  at a certain level.  And                                                               
then beyond this, it could escalate  to, say, industry funds or a                                                               
public fund.  Important about  these higher tranches is that they                                                               
can  offer a  way of  covering  "fat-tailed" -  high severe  cost                                                               
potential events - that might  be uninsurable in private schemes.                                                               
Public instruments  can provide  an opportunity for  pooling risk                                                               
across sectors,  the U.S. Superfund  being an example.   Valuable                                                               
about this  approach is that it  can be built piece  by piece, so                                                               
all the tiers  don't necessarily have to be in  place in order to                                                               
get something  like this off  the ground.  From  the commission's                                                               
perspective the introduction of any  tier would be an improvement                                                               
from what is in place now.   This kind of policy would address an                                                               
important policy gap in British  Columbia and such a policy would                                                               
acknowledge that the  risk of disaster can be  uncertain and hard                                                               
to insure.                                                                                                                      
11:33:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS asked  whether there  is potential                                                               
for  federal action  in  terms of  instituting  these reforms  or                                                               
whether it is a province-by-province process.                                                                                   
MR. DION replied that in  Canada natural resources are the domain                                                               
of a province, so it is up  to British Columbia to choose what to                                                               
do  on this  front.   At  the same  time,  when it  comes to  the                                                               
instrument of  pooling risk for  disasters, there is  a potential                                                               
for provinces  in Canada to  come together to provide  that broad                                                               
pool that  could lower  the cost  of coverage  for members.   The                                                               
other  advantage of  provincial members  coming together  in that                                                               
way,   which  would   have  to   be   voluntary  under   Canada's                                                               
constitution,  is that  it can  provide a  way of  covering these                                                               
risks and  lowering costs,  but at  the same  time it  creates an                                                               
incentive  for  those  provinces to  harmonize  their  regulatory                                                               
regimes and  their broader financial assurance  regimes and avoid                                                               
that  risk  of   a  race  to  the  bottom   in  requirements  and                                                               
regulations that  can be  a factor  in trying  to draw  in mining                                                               
investment internationally.   While  there are upsides  to coming                                                               
together, it would  have to be voluntary and  therefore he thinks                                                               
it exists with the provinces in terms of taking initiative.                                                                     
CHAIR STUTES thanked Mr. Dion for his enlightening presentation.                                                                
MS. WEITZ pointed  out that each person who  gave testimony today                                                               
is  available   by  phone  to  provide   further  information  to                                                               
committee members.                                                                                                              
11:36:22 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  closed the meeting  by stating it is  her sincerest                                                               
hope that the Dunleavy Administration  will engage with Alaskans,                                                               
the  legislature, and  Alaska's Congressional  Delegation in  the                                                               
same way  or better than  the previous administration.   She said                                                               
this will be part of the ask  of this committee.  This effort has                                                               
nothing to  do with mining companies  in Alaska, it is  not about                                                               
resource  development  versus  conservation.   Alaska  is  simply                                                               
asking its neighbor across the border  to adhere to best and safe                                                               
practices  when mining  in shared  watersheds,  which is  clearly                                                               
something [that British  Columbia] has a poor  track record with.                                                               
This  is about  Alaskan families  and Alaskan  sport, commercial,                                                               
and  subsistence  users.    Chair   Stutes  further  pointed  the                                                               
committee, the  public, and  the administration  to the  April 9,                                                               
2019,  letter written  to Governor  Dunleavy from  22 legislators                                                               
urging  the administration  to join  in this  effort in  engaging                                                               
with the federal government and  the Province of British Columbia                                                               
to help defend  Alaska's transboundary watersheds.   She said she                                                               
is now  on record  officially asking  as the  chair of  the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Fisheries that  the administration  engage                                                               
wholeheartedly in  this effort, continue the  discussion and good                                                               
work that  was started by  the previous administration  on behalf                                                               
of all Alaskans, and to produce  some firm commitments to work on                                                               
this issue.   She noted her  intention to follow up  this request                                                               
with a letter on behalf of  the committee that her committee aide                                                               
will provide to committee members.                                                                                              
11:38:17 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Fisheries meeting  was adjourned  at 11:38