RDC NEWS DIGEST
MARLEANNA SOTO JOINS RDC STAFF
Life-long Alaskan Marleanna Soto has assumed the position of RDC Projects Coordinator/AMEREF Development Director. The position was modified after Jason Brune was selected as Executive Director of RDC, and Lee Clune as Executive Director of AMEREF. Soto was born in Nome and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Soto worked previously for Tesoro in retail operations, and at the Arc of Anchorage in business and administration. Soto will be working on issues for RDC, and fundraising for AMEREF. Contact Soto at email@example.com or 276-0700 ext. 4.
KENSINGTON MINE PERMIT STRUCK DOWN BY COURT
The Kensington gold mine project near Juneau is in jeopardy after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a lower court ruling that had upheld a key U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit that would have allowed Coeur Alaska to use Lower Slate Lake for tailings disposal.
The appeals court said the tailings would contain concentrations of potentially hazardous materials and that the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Corps, has jurisdiction over the permit.
The decision sets a precedent in potentially denying mining operations from storing tailings in ponds, lakes and other water bodies. It could have severe implications for other major mining prospects across Alaska.
Before the appeal was filed by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and other environmental groups, the mine was expected to open later this year, employing hundreds of local residents and giving a significant boost to the Southeast Alaska economy. Construction had been underway at the proposed mine with some 400 people working on the project.
The appeals court also overturned a Native corporation’s permit for a dock to ferry workers to and from the mine and the Forest Service Record of Decision authorizing the mine.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is being considered by the mining company. The state intervened in the case last year in support of the Corps’ permit. That permit would have allowed for the discharge of processed water into the 23-acre lake. Coeur said the tailings would not cause long-term harm to resident fish in the lake, which would ultimately be restored to a more productive condition.
The Corps and the Forest Service had both found in their initial decision that Lower Slate Lake was the environmentally-preferred alternative over a much more expensive dry-stack tailings option. Coeur has been working to develop the Kensington mine for nearly two decades and has spent over $200 million on the project. The approved plan struck down by the court reflected the collective expertise of dozens of independent scientists and engineers whose work went into more than 900 studies.
At this point, construction at the mine is 85 percent completed with the mill standing at 95 percent completion.
PETITION SEEKS TO LIST YELLOW-BILLED LOON ON ESA
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that a petition to list the Yellow-billed Loon (YBLO) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) might be justified.
The petition, submitted in 2004, has resulted in the development and implementation of a Conservation Agreement for the YBLO. The findings are based on research done primarily in Alaska.
Roughly only one quarter of the world population of YBLOs breed in Alaska, primarily in northern, coastal and low-lying areas, especially in the National Petroleum Reserve where 75 percent of the Alaska breeding population is found.
An ESA listing of the YBLO could severely restrict and reduce development of natural resources across Alaska. Data supporting the petition, provided mainly by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups, indicate the decline in YBLO population is partly due to resource development in breeding grounds.
However, records indicate an increase of over 25% in the number of nests in the Colville River Delta was observed from 1983 to 2003, despite development in that area.
FWS is seeking additional information from interested parties. The comment period ends on August 28, 2007.
BRADY TO RETIRE; CROCKETT TO LEAD AOGA
Judy Brady, Executive Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA), has announced her retirement after 14 years with the association.
AOGA’s Board of Directors has named Deputy Director Marilyn Crockett to the position of Executive Director effective July 1, 2007, which will be 37 years to the day she was hired by the association.
“Marilyn will be an outstanding spokesperson for the Oil and Gas Association,” Brady said. “She has extensive knowledge of the industry and the State of Alaska and is highly respected.”
Brady started her career as a news editor for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in 1963. Since then she has held policy management positions with the federal and state governments, as well as the private sector. In 1973 she was named Chief Administrative Judge for the Alaska Native Claims Appeals Board in the U.S. Department of the Interior. She was the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources under Governor Steve Cowper and led the Alaska Bond Bank Authority.
COAL CLASSIC GOLF TOURNAMENT RAISES FUNDS
RDC Board member Jeff Foley, Calista Corporation, participates in the 15th Annual Alaska Coal Classic Golf Tournament June 13 at the Anchorage Golf Course in support of AMEREF. The event raised funds for resource educa-tion in Alaska schools. A list of the many generous sponsors and pictures of the event may be found at: www.ameref.org/coalclassic/