Stop the Noise

Stephen Capra

We are living through one of the most difficult periods in conservation history, in a country led by a madman, supported by people that see life through authoritarian rule. The rhetoric and constant stream of nausea created by this leader and his Republican accomplices and excusers isdesigned to keep one off balance, fatigued and scared.

Ignorance and fear are driving a wedge across our nation and people seem more willing than ever to throw away the environment in pursuit of living wages. This has been the turning point for the conservative movement and the crystallization of their efforts to destroy unions, social safety nets and common sense regulation of industry. We are developing a nation of workers, who will work anyway, on any terms, to survive. Nothing has had more direct impact on conservation and protection of species than the destruction of the middle-class that began in earnest during the Reagan years.

We need a society once again that is based in justice and fairness, we need corporations that are forced by rule of law to pay real wages and benefits to all that work for them and we must understand that a stock market built on mergers and acquisitions and returns to shareholders is not good for the environment, because it is killing our middle-class.

Last week I ran into our junior Senator Martin Heinrich, Martin has always been and remains a strong supporter of the environmental causes such as wilderness and monument protections and has been a friend for more than 18 years. When I ran into him I made a proposal, which he said he would give real thought to.

I told him that under the Obama Administration, Republicans continued to introduce legislation no matter if it could pass because they believed in putting down markers and growing their base with legislation that they supported.

In that vein, I suggested that he introduce a package of legislation that was designed to enhance our middle-class and to support a real vision for environmental protection. No half steps, a real vision, something to inspire those who believe in protections for environment and security and jobs for workers across the country, because we cannot continue to see them as separate causes.

The environmental community often brings in different voices when they need support for wilderness or other conservation measures, but the link now is vital and must be reciprocal.

We must support minimum wages and job training and we must demand a real social safety net that is expanded, not chopped. In the conservation realm, we must introduce legislation that is inspiring and designed to capture our nation’s imagination.

Here are a few suggestions, humbly put forth:

  • An end to offshore drilling in the Arctic, our East and West coasts.
  • The immediate protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 50% increase in investment in alternative energy by 2020.
  • More tax cuts for electric cars and solar.
  • Funding that will completely end the backlog of maintenance for our National Parks in three years.
  • Expansion of our National Park System to include a major Tall Grass Prairie Park of no less than 500,000 acres and three new sites for National Park expansion, not just upgrading an area.
  • Legislation that demands the use of science in classroom textbooks nationwide.
  • Protections to remain and expanded for the threated Monuments on land and in the ocean and a directive to create 10 new Monuments by 2021.
  • Serious funding and legislation for Climate Change and a return to the Paris accords as a leader.
  • No dispersing of the Interior Department across the nation.
  • The directive and funding to increase wilderness in America by 35% by 2024.
  • The end of predator species killing and killing in their dens, period.
  • Expansion of wolf recovery to all Western states.
  • Increase in fees to ranchers for using public lands.
  • Monies for a new restoration and training program designed for rural and ranching communities to restore public lands, waters, andriparian areas. These monies would come from new taxes on the oil and gas industry.
  • 50 million in funding to purchase grazing rights across the West, with more to come by increasing grazing fees.
  • The immediate end to Wildlife Services, with that funding going directly to wildlife programs that support predator species.
  • The expansion and upgrading of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Direct reductions of oil and gas leases by 50 percent by 2020 on public lands.
  • Creating an increase of funding to the EPA by 45% by 2020.
  • Real legislation to control and regulate pesticides in America and increased funding for organic farming, including increased tax incentives.

To do this and to improve the plight of all Americans Congress must move to end the tax cut imposed by Republicans this past December and more taxes must be placed directly on the top 1%.

Increase spending for birth control her at home and internationally.

Stop all the giveaways to corporate America and force them to return monies to American shores.

More taxes must be placed directly on the fossil-fuel industry and that of Power companies that continue to use coal in their power generation.

We must put a direct tax on the use of plastics, plastic bags and the companies that create them, largely funded by the oil and gas industry.

The passage of a real HealthCare legislation (likely single payer), that will reduce the costs of healthcare for all Americans, while ensuring quality care for all. That will save money and create real equality.

Reducing the endless spending on the military, while investing in dialogue, diplomacy and respecting all nations. That common sense element will give us the money to protect our environment, here and abroad.

Finally, we must remove the control of Congress from complete Republican control.

More than anything we must understand the urgency of saving our environment and the strong need to end all the noise and distraction that is the toxic nature of this President and Congress.

We may not get it all, but my hope is that Senator Heinrich and the Democrats in Congress are prepared to be BOLD. It begins with a real vision and the strength to carry it forward.

If we do not act soon, it will simply be too late for this planet. We have no choice, we must be BOLD.


Poulsbo man charged in Alaska for hunting crimes

ANCHORAGE — A Poulsbo man charged earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Alaska is being accused of illegally leading a hunt for Dall sheep inside a national park and falsifying documents.

Jeffrey Harris, 44, also allegedly wrote to another man, who was also charged, that he planned to plant two dead rabbits, tainted with a substance called xylitol that is poisonous to wolves and coyotes, at a bear baiting station. Xylitol is a sweetener that is deadly to canines and birds, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska.

“Let them snatch them and have a sweet treat,” Harris allegedly wrote in a Facebook message, obtained by federal investigators according to court documents. Harris was charged for the poisoning as well.

Harris was employed as a horse wrangler and maintenance worker for Ptarmigan Lake Lodge, which provided guided hunting trips at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the country’s largest national park. Harris, who was not authorized to guide hunts, is accused of illegally leading in 2014 one of the hunts that resulted in the shooting of a sheep. Harris is then accused of falsifying documents to hide his involvement. The person who shot the sheep paid $4,000.

Harris is also accused of illegally trafficking a harvested blonde grizzly bear, then knowingly filing falsified reports, misstating the date the bear was shot as it was out of season, according to court documents.

Two other men were charged in connection to the case, Dale Lackner, 72, from Haines, Alaska, and Casey Richardson, 47, from Huson, Montana.

A man walks on the snow covered boardwalk during a snow storm on January 4, 2018 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A 'bomb cyclone' winter storm has caused every East Coast state, from Maine to Florida, to declare at least one weather advisory, winter storm watch, winter storm warning or blizzard warning. (Photo: Mark Makela / Getty Images)A man walks on the snow-covered boardwalk during a snowstorm on January 4, 2018, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A “bomb cyclone” winter storm has caused every East Coast state from Maine to Florida to declare at least one weather advisory, winter storm watch, winter storm warning or blizzard warning. (Photo: Mark Makela / Getty Images)

On January 2, it was colder in Jacksonville, Florida (38 degrees) than it was in Anchorage, Alaska (44 degrees, which tied a record high for that city).

What is wrong with this picture, in addition to the obvious?

Since December 27, at least a dozen people have died from Arctic-cold temperatures that have covered much of the United States, as wind-chill and freezing advisories were issued by the National Weather Service from the border of Canada down to southern Texas, and from Montana all the way across to Maine.

What’s causing the chaotic temperatures? To understand them, we need to look at the globe’s northernmost regions. The Arctic’s extremely cold air is usually trapped within a circular weather pattern known as the Polar Vortex. Prior to anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), that weather pattern was intact and strong, which kept the Arctic’s freezing cold air trapped in the Arctic.

But now, thanks to ACD along with natural variability, that weather pattern is changing, and possibly for good.

What It Means

As global weather patterns are becoming increasingly disrupted by ACD, the polar vortex is being weakened, which is allowing the freezing air to flow out of that region and head south across Canada — and as far down as southern Texas this week.

The total area of global tree cover lost last year was equivalent to the area of the country of New Zealand (approximately 73.4 million acres). This was a staggering 51 percent increase over the previous year’s loss. The University of Maryland study that provided this data cited ACD-driven forest fires and deforestation as the two leading causes, and noted that the wildfires were responsible for the massive spike in coverage loss compared to the previous year.

That phenomenon used to be extremely rare, but is becoming increasingly common as ACD impacts intensify. What is also rare is how long this intense cold snap across the US is lasting — 10 days now and counting.

On Tuesday, for example, Boston tied its seven-day record for the most consecutive days at or below 20 degrees. Meanwhile, during the last week of December more than 1,600 cold temperature records were either tied or broken across the US, making it the second coldest week on record for the country.

As cold as it has been throughout many of the 48 contiguous states, Alaska and other parts of the Arctic are seeing record-warm temperatures.

In addition to the January 2 record in Anchorage, temperatures across the Arctic on that same day were more than 6 degrees warmer than normal.

study published by the American Meteorological Society in September 2017 found that, since 1990, the polar vortex has weakened and meandered more than it had before. The study also reported that the weakening of the vortex was most likely being set in motion by a rapidly warming and melting Arctic region, which was resulting in colder winters across Europe — and occasionally the US.

Danger Compounded by Trump’s Denialism

On December 28, President Donald Trump tweeted:

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

Jason Furtado, a University of Oklahoma meteorology professor, told the Associated Press that it is important not to confuse weather with climate. Weather is something that occurs over a period of a few weeks or less in one region, whereas climate occurs over a period of years or decades and is global.

“A few cold days doesn’t disprove climate change,” Furtado said. “That’s just silly. Just like a couple down days on the stock market doesn’t mean the economy is going into the trash.”

Over the last year, there have been approximately three record high temperatures set across the US for every record low temperature.

Furthermore, the last for years have been the four hottest years ever recorded for the planet.

More than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that ACD is real, and that the prime driver of it is CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions stemming from human activity. Of the less than 3 percent of climate scientists who doubt or dispute that fact, the vast majority have been shown to be funded by the fossil fuel industry.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon.

Dahr Jamail is also the author of the book, The End of Ice, forthcoming from The New Press.

Bristol Bay Angels basketball coach, killed in boating incident Sunday on Lake Alekn

This article was updated for the Bristol Bay Times – Dutch Harbor Fisherman newspaper.

Sunday’s moose opening in western Bristol Bay ended in tragedy when 35-year-old Bryan Anderson of Naknek died after falling overboard on a trip across Lake Aleknagik. Anderson was hunting with three others on the boat of Jack Savo, Jr., of Dillingham.

According to state troopers, they were boating back across the lake late when Anderson fell into the water.

“One of the passengers actually witnessed him falling off of the boat,” said AST Sgt. Luis Nieves. “That passenger immediately shouted to the operator, Mr. Savo. He maneuvered the boat to recover Mr. Anderson,” finding him unresponsive in the water. Anderson was not wearing a life jacket.

The boaters pulled Anderson to shore and attempted CPR, then brought him on the vessel and headed quickly back to the launch at Aleknagik.

“They were met by local EMS, who then transported Mr. Anderson to Kananakak [Hospital] where they continued lifesaving measures until he was pronounced deceased at approximately 0250 hours,” said Nieves.

Troopers were first notified of the situation a little past midnight. The state medical examiner requested an autopsy.

By Tuesday state troopers had not offered further detail on what caused Anderson to fall overboard Sunday night. Alcohol may have been involved, according to AST.

Nieves said the boat had the required life jackets on board, but at least Anderson was not wearing one when he fell in.

“Even the most fit person … you go into the water without a life jacket, that cold water is going to immediately cause you to take a gasp for air, which can result in people drinking water,” he said, urging people to boat safely and keep the PFDs on, not just in the boat.


Life-and-death vote for wildlife

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Protect Alaska's wildlifeProtect Alaska’s wildlife

Today, Congress will vote on an appalling amendment from Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young that seeks to open millions of acres of National Park Service (NPS) lands to the ruthless killing of grizzly bears and wolves. These practices should not occur anywhere, least of all on lands managed by the NPS.

Congress nixed a rule that forbid these terrible practices on National Wildlife Refuges earlier in the year. Now they’re aiming at our National Park Service lands. The Young amendment #43 would subject Alaskan wildlife on NPS lands to hunting methods that most Americans find appalling—such as killing wolves and their pups while in their dens, baiting bears with rotting food in order to shoot them point-blank, and luring hibernating black bears out of their dens with artificial light in order to shoot them.

Your voice is needed to help defeat the Young amendment #43. Please make a brief, polite phone call to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler at (202) 225-3536 now.You can simply say, “Please protect wildlife in the FY18 spending package (H.R. 3354) and vote ‘no’ on the Young amendment #43.”

After you call, please send a follow-up message.

Take action
Thank you for all you do for animals.
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Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO

Alaska hunting guide charged with herding grizzly bears to clients

ANCHORAGE — An Alaska master hunting guide has been charged with using assistants on snowmobiles to herd grizzly bears toward clients, making it easier for hunters to shoot the animals.

Brian Simpson, 55, of Fairbanks, also is charged with guiding on a national preserve without a permit.

Simpson is charged with two counts of aiding in the commission of a state game violation and three counts of guiding on federal land without authorization. All five counts are misdemeanors.

Two assistant guides working for Simpson are charged with using motorized vehicles to drive or herd game.

The charges stem from spring hunting trips last year in western Alaska, according to the Office of Special Prosecutions.

In a complaint filed this month, prosecutors said two hunting clients in April 2016 arrived in Shishmaref and traveled to Serpentine Hot Springs within Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

On April 26, according to the complaint, the hunting party spotted a bear and Simpson ordered an assistant to “turn it around.” The assistant used a snowmobile to chase the bear in deep snow, trailing from 30 yards behind, until it was tired. The assistant guide then chased the bear toward the hunter. One of the hunters shot the bear from 150 yards away.

A similar scenario played out two days later, according to the complaint.

After a hunting party guided by Simpson spotted a bear, a second assistant guide chased the animal with a snowmobile, cut it off from escaping and herded it toward the hunting party. A hunting client shot the second bear.

The assistant guide told an investigating trooper that chasing bears with snowmobiles was common practice in hunts guided by Simpson.

An arraignment for Simpson is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Nome.

Stop the EPA’s approval of the Pebble Mine

We’ve reached 124,861 of our goal of 150,000.

Sign the petition

The petition to the Environmental Protection Agency reads:

“The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska would unleash billions of tons of toxic waste and cause an irreversible environmental catastrophe. Keep the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination in place and protect the environment, jobs, the region’s economy and this fragile ecosystem.”

    Sign Petition

    You’ll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.

    Stop the EPA's approval of the Pebble Mine

    The world’s largest salmon fishery is again under threat of massive amounts of toxic mining waste — and this time our own government is behind it.

    In a reversal of Obama administration efforts, climate change denier Scott Pruitt and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have given a Canadian company the green light to begin construction on the Pebble Mine in Alaska, which would be one of largest open-pit gold and copper mines in the world.

    Industrial polluters, Republicans in Congress and now the Trump administration are pushing for this unmitigated disaster that could destroy the pristine Bristol Bay watershed along with its jobs, economy and wildlife. We must demand that the EPA stop this reckless corporate assault on our environment.

    Tell the EPA: Stop the Pebble Mine now.

    Salmon from Bristol Bay are the lifeblood of this Alaska region, providing half of the world’s sockeye and generating roughly 14,000 jobs and a half billion a year in annual revenue. Native Alaskans have relied on Bristol Bay salmon for subsistence and livelihoods for centuries.1

    But all of that is now at risk because greedy corporate profiteers and our own EPA could cause an irreversible environmental catastrophe. In a backroom deal struck with Northern Dynasty, the owner of the Pebble Mine project, Scott Pruitt agreed to settle previous lawsuits regarding the mine, abandoned Obama-era regulatory plans and encouraged the company to apply for new permits to begin operations.2

    The public has overwhelmingly rejected the Pebble Mine project. More than 65 percent of all Alaskans, 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents — including Native people — and more than 85 percent of commercial fisherman strongly oppose the Pebble mine.3,4,5 Over 1.5 million people — including 100,000 CREDO members — have let the EPA know that the Pebble Mine is absolutely unacceptable.

    We won a huge victory a few years ago to stop the Pebble Mine, but now Trump is on the verge of reversing it. We must take action now to protect the Bristol Bay and its watershed from toxic mining pollution for good.

    Tell the EPA: Stop the Pebble Mine now.

    Thanks for all you do.


    Congress repeals a regulation limiting hunting in Alaska’s wildlife refuges

    Bears in Alaska, including the Kodiak brown bear, could be affected by the repeal of a rule that limited hunting in Alaskan wildlife refuges.

    Republicans in Congress, led by Alaska Rep. Don Young, have repealed Obama-era restrictions on hunting predators in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.

    Restrictions still remain in national parks, but now Alaska’s state rules govern predator hunting in the refuges. These rules are designed to help hunters by reducing the number of predators that take the area’s game, such as deer, moose and caribou.

    The Obama rule reversed by Congress gave the Fish and Wildlife Service ultimate control over hunting regulations on refuges and near refuges. The rule is one of many the new GOP Congress has reversed using the Congressional Review Act.

    Tensions are high on both sides of this issue and the Center for Biological Diversity is challenging the legality of the repeal, saying the law requires that regulation of refuges benefit nature, not hunters.

    “For many, it’s an argument over states’ rights, over who gets to be in charge,” says Erica Martinson, an Alaska Dispatch News reporter in Washington, DC. “On another, it’s about something they call ‘predator control.’”

    The Board of Game in Alaska wants to allow, at certain times, the hunting of wolves and bears in order to maintain the population of moose, deer and caribou, so that people who want to hunt them for meat can do so, Martinson explains. The federal government, on the other hand, isn’t in favor of bolstering populations for hunting reasons.

    Martinson says there has been “a lot of hyperbole on both sides” of this issue. “Overall, there hasn’t been much predator control activity on refuges, [though] it’s often near those areas. And the shooting of wolves from helicopters is pretty rare … All in all, 1,100 wolves are killed every year in Alaska, and about 12 percent of those come from predator control. So, [only] a small amount are affected by this, especially since this only impacts refuges and not state lands.”

    Many Alaskans are in favor of the federal regulations and plenty of others are opposed to it, Martinson says. “Most often, these federal Fish and Wildlife regulations were set by federal workers in Alaska. It’s a decadeslong history of disagreement over this in the state.”

    The Congressional Review Act allows a new Congress to overturn with a simple majority any rule that was made in the last six months of a previous administration, but it has only 60 legislative days to do so. Until the Trump administration, the CRA had only been used once since it was created in 1996. The current Congress has already used it 13 times. This makes the outcome of the Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit hard to predict.

    The center is arguing that the rule in question was created over many, many years and isn’t just the product of the last days of the Obama administration. A nearly identical rule for National Parks in Alaska was issued by the Park Service but has not been overturned, since it was issued over a year ago, Martinson points out, so the refuge rule was “certainly not something that was done at the last minute.”

    In addition, the center is arguing that the CRA is a blunt instrument because anytime it is used to overturn something, nothing substantially similar can ever be passed again. “It means there’s no chance for the Fish and Wildlife Service to tweak this rule or do something similar,” Martinson says. “It means that they’ve lost all ability to write any kind of regulation about this [issue].”

    Some of the Alaska refuges that may be affected by the rule’s repeal include the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and others in Yukon and Kodiak. There are 16 refuges in Alaska, which take up about 77 million acres.

    Martinson points out that, even with the rule change, the Alaska Board of Game still maintains significant rules for hunting all over Alaska.

    “This doesn’t wipe out the existence of hunting rules entirely. People aren’t allowed to just hunt whatever, with these actions,” she explains. “It just sort of alters the lay of the land for how they decide each year’s hunting allotments — who can hunt where and what.”

    This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

    Obama blocked this controversial Alaskan gold mine. Trump just gave it new life.

    May 12 at 7:37 AM

    The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a legal settlement with a Canadian company hoping to build a massive gold, copper and molybdenum mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, clearing the way for the firm to apply for federal permits.

    The settlement reached late Thursday between the EPA and the Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., could revive a controversial project that was effectively scuttled under the Obama administration. And it underscores how President Trump’s commitment to support mining extends far beyond coal, to gold, copper and other minerals.

    While the move does not grant immediate approval to the Pebble Mine project,which will have to undergo a federal environmental review and also clear state hurdles before any construction takes place, it reverses the agency’s 2014 determination that a large-scale mine in the area be barred because it would imperil the region’s valuable sockeye salmon fishery.

    In a statement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that the agreement “will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation.”

    “We are committed to due process and the rule of law, and regulations that are ‘regular’,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.  “We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides … We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”


    A coalition of fishing operators, native Alaskans, environmentalists and local businesses have fought the mine proposal for more than a decade, ever since Northern Dynasty Minerals began exploring for minerals in 2004. While this area in southwestern Alaska contains a reservoir of gold worth an estimated $120 billion, its pockmarked lakes and tributaries feed into the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to a fishery that generates $500 million a year.

    In 2014 the EPA invoked a rarely used clause of the Clean Water Act, 404(c), to issue a proposed determination that the company could not apply to the Army Corps of Engineers for any permits because a massive mine could have “significant” and potentially “catastrophic” impacts on the region.

    Alannah Hurley, executive director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said in an interview that opponents of the mine “are outraged that this is happening.”

    “If there’s damage to the watershed and the fisheries, then it would be devastating to our identity as indigenous people,” Hurley said, adding that tribes and other local residents “invited” the EPA to intervene on the issue. “For the company to paint it as federal intervention is completely misleading. The people of Bristol Bay basically cried out to EPA to help us.”

    The company has sued EPA on three different fronts, arguing that the agency violated the Clean Water Act, colluded with outside groups to reach its determination and violated the Freedom of Information Act. The suit concerning the outside groups, filed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, was the one settled Thursday in federal court in Alaska.

    Under the terms of the agreement, EPA will begin the process of withdrawing its proposed determination, which will be subject to public notice and comment. It will not take the next step in the process until 48 months from the settlement or until the Army Corps of Engineers issues its final environmental impact statement, whichever comes first.

    Northern Dynasty Minerals, which has never filed federal permit applications for Pebble Mine, would have to do so within 30 months.

    “From the outset of this unfortunate saga, we’ve asked for nothing more than fairness and due process under the law — the right to propose a development plan for Pebble and have it assessed against the robust environmental regulations and rigorous permitting requirements enforced in Alaska and the United States,” the company’s chief executive, Ron Thiessen, said in a statement early Friday. “Today’s settlement gives us precisely that, the same treatment every developer and investor in a stable, first world country should expect.”

    The firm’s stock price has already been bolstered by Trump’s election victory. After falling to as low as 25 cents a share at one point last year, the price soared after the November election, jumping 25 percent overnight and reaching as high as $3.18 earlier this year. The company has touted the likely benefits of having a new, friendlier administration in office. A series of investor presentations by Thiessen included a PowerPoint slide titled “Trump Election Victory — A Return to Normal.”

    While many congressional Republicans, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and House Science  Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) oppose what they’ve described as EPA’s “preemptive” veto of the project, public opinion in Alaska on the mining proposal remains split.

    Last fall a ballot measure passed with more than 65 percent that would require the state legislature to pass a measure approving any large-scale mine in the Bristol Bay region, and they would have to determine that such an operation would not imperil the area’s sockeye salmon fishery.

    Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, has said that constructing Pebble Mine “presents formidable challenges” given the valuable fishery and the rural village life that depends on it.

    “Based on the information available to me now, I do not support the Pebble Mine,” reads a statement from his 2014 campaign site.

    Taryn Kiekow Heimer, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview that “the opposition in Alaska has grown stronger” since EPA blocked the mine’s construction.

    But in Washington, the political climate has shifted.

    Administration officials are reopening the question of whether to construct Pebble Mine, and may even reconsider the Interior and Agriculture Departments’ move in December denying another company’s request to renew a lease on the southwest border of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

    In one of the last big mining decisions of the Obama era, the two departments rejected Twin Metals Minnesota’s lease renewal bid, and set in motion a formal review to examine whether all mining activities in 234,000 acres abutting the wilderness should be barred for the next 20 years. Twin Metals Minnesota is a subsidiary of Antofagasta Mining PLC.

    Minnesota Reps. Rick Nolan (D) and Tom Emmer (R) met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on April 26 to discuss whether to reverse that decision, according to individuals who asked for anonymity to discuss a private conversation. Bob McFarlin, Twin Metals Minnesota’s government affairs adviser, said in an email that the firm has met with lawmakers and top federal officials “in both the previous and current administrations to express our concerns” about the decision to deny the company’s lease application.

    “I am optimistic that we will be able to work with the new administration to allow this initiative to move forward,” Nolan said in a statement Thursday. “Having met with all the involved agencies and parties, I know renewing these leases is the sensible and correct thing to do.”

    And Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said in a statement that his industry stands to “benefit most from the administration’s willingness to lift the regulatory burden that has impaired our ability to compete in the energy market.”

    That will ease restrictions on “access and development of much needed domestic minerals and metals,” Quinn added, which “are needed  for everything from infrastructure and manufacturing to cutting edge technologies.”

    Emperor Goose Hunting Open for First Time in 30 Years

    Shooting emperor geese in Alaska is legal for the first time in 30 years, but officials are hoping hunters take it easy.

    | April 19, 2017, at 12:53 p.m.

    BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Shooting emperor geese in Alaska is legal for the first time in 30 years, but officials are hoping hunters take it easy.

    Federal managers have opened a subsistence hunt for the birds and are visiting coastal villages to lay down ground rules before the geese migrate, KYUK-AM reported ( ).

    The rules call for targeting one bird at a time instead of spraying the flock, only taking juvenile birds that are not yet breeding, limiting the number of birds taken and only taking one or two eggs from a nest.

    About 80 percent of the world’s emperor goose population breeds along the west coast of Yukon Delta in southern Alaska. The migration is expected to begin in mid to late May.

    Officials hope the large number of geese doesn’t get to hunters’ heads, though.

    “With the season opening for emperor geese for the first time in 30 years, there is a concern of overharvest of emperor geese, because they’re ignorant to a lot of hunting activities, because they haven’t been harvested, so they haven’t learned how to avoid hunters,” said Bryan Daniels, a waterfowl biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The six-week hunt is now open and runs until the beginning of June.

    The 1980s was the last time hunters could go out for emperor geese, which was before the bird’s population dropped dangerously low.

    Now, the population is just above the threshold to sustain a hunt.


    Information from: KYUK-AM,