Response to Speak Your Mind articles

I always look for your articles for advice. I don’t always have that type of advice. I’m grateful you share.

Brittany Laraux

Bethel, AK

Vaccine Eligibility Expanded in AK!

Yesterday (March 3rd, 2021), the State of Alaska Vaccine Task Force significantly expanded the criteria for who is eligible for the state-allocated COVID-19 vaccine! The new eligibility group, Phase 1C, includes people 55-64 years old, people 16 and older who are essential workers under the CISA definition, “high-risk” or “might be high-risk” according to CDC guidelines, those living in a household that includes three or more generations, or “skipped” generations (e.g., a grandchild living with an elder), and people living in “unserved communities” as specifically defined by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

I would encourage everyone to take some time to look through this information and find out if your family or friends are eligible and desire to receive a vaccination. This is a big step forward in the COVID-19 mitigation effort and is very encouraging news!

If you do qualify, visit CovidVax.Alaska.Gov to check the availability of appointments in your area.

Senator Scott Kawasaki

Juneau, AK

I will support the first Native American who would hold this position with the expectation that Representative Haaland will be true to her word

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today (March 4th, 2021) announced that she will support the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland to serve as Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

The Department of the Interior – and thus the Secretary who leads it – both play an outsized role in our state. Alaska has more federal lands, more mineral resources, and more natural hazards than any other state. We are set apart by unique laws and frameworks that Congress enacted and that Presidents signed, whether our Statehood Act or ANCSA or ANILCA. We are an Arctic nation because of Alaska. And we are a diverse state, with many indigenous peoples and cultures who have lived there since, as they say, time immemorial. We are a state that is just different.

I seek to ensure every nominee who comes before us understands that. I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to educate others about Alaska and our unique needs and our unique peoples. And I spent a considerable amount of time with Representative Haaland reiterating what is at stake for us.

Alaska’s prosperity is directly linked to decisions made by Interior – whether through their trust responsibilities, their authority over responsible resource development, or their monitoring of hazards and other threats.

I’ve had two separate meetings with Representative Haaland that lasted for more than an hour each. I participated in both days of her nomination hearing, asking many questions, and have reviewed the answers she provided to all of our members. I’ve also spent considerable time listening to Alaskans’ views on her nomination. They are paying attention to this nomination.

I’ve heard two sentiments over and over again. The first is that many Alaskans – Alaska Natives in particular – are enormously proud to have a Native American nominated to this position. It is truly a historic nomination and they believe Alaska Native issues can be elevated to one of the highest levels of government.

The second concern that I’m hearing is that many Alaskans are concerned about the agendas Representative Haaland will seek to implement on her own and on behalf of the White House. They are concerned by her opposition to resource development on public lands, including her opposition to key projects in Alaska and her questioning of the vital role that Alaska Native Corporations serve in our communities.

Weighing on top of that is my experience from the Obama administration, when I voted for a Secretary who promised to be a good partner for Alaska, but proved to be anything but that after confirmation.

So I struggled with this vote. How to reconcile a historic nomination with my concerns about an individual’s – and an administration’s – conception of what Alaska’s future should be.

I believe Representative Haaland’s heart is there for Native peoples and all who treasure our public lands. I don’t believe that is the extent of Interior’s mission, but she has also told us that she recognizes that if confirmed, she will be serving in a different capacity. She told me that she knows she will need to represent every Alaskan, including those who know how to responsibly develop our lands. And she committed to me that she will ‘make sure that we are doing all we can to ensure that your constituents have the opportunities that they need.’

Given the early days of this administration, I have my doubts about whether that will be the case. But I have decided to support this nomination today, to support the first Native American who would hold this position, and with the expectation that Representative Haaland will be true to her word—not just on matters relating to Native peoples, but also responsible resource development and every other issue.

I also fully anticipate that she will have a strong management team in place with people who understand the value of resource development from public lands. She needs this—we need this—within the Department of Interior.

I am going to place my trust in Representative Haaland and her team, despite some very real misgivings. And Representative Haaland, if you are listening, know that I intend to work with you because I want you to be successful and need you to be successful, but I am also going to hold you to your commitments to ensure that Alaska is allowed to prosper.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Washington, D.C.

Clean Water Act protections needed for Bristol Bay

This is a letter to Michael Regan, Administrator- designate and Jane Nishida, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dated March 1, 2021.

Dear EPA Administrator-designate Regan and Acting Administrator Nishida,

We write to you today requesting immediate action to ensure the Bristol Bay salmon fishery and the 14,000 men and women whose livelihoods depend on it are not destroyed by development of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska’s headwaters. Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen have been fighting the threat of the proposed Pebble Mine for over a decade now, still with no protections in place which would give our industry the assurances we need and deserve.

Bristol Bay’s commercial salmon fishery is unlike any other in both its volume of fish and number of renewable jobs. It’s a thriving economic engine that supplies over half the world’s wild sockeye salmon and provides over 15,000 renewable jobs. Bristol Bay is a torch-bearer for sustainable fisheries management, boasting record returns over the past decade, following a record 135 years of commercial fishing of this incredible resource.

It’s sustained a fishing tradition for generations of families throughout Alaska and the U.S. with Bristol Bay commercial fishing permit holders and crew hailing from nearly every US state. Unmatched in both size and sustainability, action under the Clean Water Act is needed and justified to ensure this $2.2 billion a year commercial fishing industry continues to thrive.

In spite of consistent findings by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that the Pebble Mine would pose unacceptable adverse impacts to the Bristol Bay watershed and fisheries, the Bristol Bay region remains vulnerable to large-scale mining and the door remains open for the Pebble Mine to be developed. Without Clean Water Act 404(c) protections in place, Bristol Bay is not safe and Bristol Bay’s fishermen cannot rest.

We now have an opportunity to stop the Pebble Mine for good and put an end to the uncertainty that has been hanging over Alaska’s fishing industry and the thousands of American fishing families who depend on Bristol Bay. We hope that you listen to the call from Bristol Bay tribes, fishermen, and others to establish Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay without delay. Please help us ensure that we can continue to provide our fellow Americans and the world with nutritious wild seafood and support our families for generations to come.

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay Advisors; Katherine Carscallen, Hattie Albecker, Erica Madison, Heidi Dunlap, John Fairbanks, Michael Jackson, Michael Friccero, Holly Wysocki, Mark Niver

Example: 9075434113