BC Officials Agree to Meet with Transboundary Rivers Group Over Mining Issues

British Columbia officials say they’re willing to meet with an Alaska transboundary rivers entity to discuss a pause on permits, permit amendments and approval of new mining projects along salmon-rich transboundary rivers.

The invitation was extended in early July by George Heyman, the province’s minister of environment and climate change strategy. Fred Olsen Jr., executive director of the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), said that the SEITC is excited about the letter and the opportunity to work with the B.C. government directly on the issue.

Commercial fishing, environmental entities and others in Southeast Alaska have been concerned for years about the potential for water pollution from mines along transboundary waters in British Columbia. Olsen said that SEITC is not trying to stop development, but that such development should be done right to begin with to avoid harm to salmon habitat.

Heyman said that the two entities share goals of environmental protection and progress in the fight against climate change. Heyman noted that B.C.’s Climate Change Accountability Act sets ambitious legislated targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of up to 80% below 2007 levels by 2050. To that end the B.C. government developed a CleanBC plan which establishes initial policies to move the province toward its 2030 mission reduction target of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 2007.