State and provincial leaders cooperate on threat to transboundary rivers.
More than a half dozen proposals to develop hardrock mines in northwestern British Columbia are producing worry downstream in Alaska. The mines would be located on some of the state’s most productive and scenic salmon rivers, and the economic and environmental costs of a large spill of mine waste could be severe. The collapse of a tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine, which happened nearly three years ago in southern British Columbia, is still fresh in the memory.
Last fall, Alaska and British Columbia officials signed an agreement that will guide watershed monitoring and public consultation for new mines. Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton spoke with Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott about the state’s concerns. The conversation touches on the difficulty of international negotiation, how the Trump administration could affect the agreement’s implementation, and Alaska’s definition of a successful outcome.
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Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton