Pebble Mine Bill Before Alaska Legislature

The second session of the 27th Alaska Legislature now underway has before it several measures dealing with fisheries related issues, including Senate Bill 152, to require legislative approval for operation of a large scale metallic sulfide mining in Southwest Alaska.

The measure by Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, does not name the Pebble Mine. It states simply that the legislators would have to approve operation of such a mine that could aversely affect the waters of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. The measure is specific that it would not apply to existing mining operations in Alaska or mines that do not affect the waters of Bristol Bay. The bill has been referred to the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Donny Olson, D- Golovin.

House Bill 184, sponsored by Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, and Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, would amend state statutes to allow 75 percent of the fisheries business tax paid by fish processors to go to communities, up millions of dollars from the current 50 percent.

State officials have projected revenue from this tax for 2012 is about $60 million, up from about $44 million in 2010. This means that communities would get some $45 million, including about $15 million that would have otherwise gone into the state’s general fund.

House Bill 261, sponsored by Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, and aimed at increasing participation of Alaskans in commercial fisheries, has moved from House Fisheries to House Finance since its introduction in January, but was not yet scheduled for a hearing. The measure has the backing of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. and Bristol Bay Native Corp. The Alaska Commercial Fisheries and Agriculture Bank has voiced concerns about the effectiveness of the measure.

Follow the progress of these and other bills through the current session at