Friday, May 21, 2010

Proposed Resolution to the United Nations on Banning Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Take Action: Support a Proposed Resolution to the United Nations on Banning Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Hello, friends!

I hope this message finds you doing well.

I am sending you a draft of a resolution I wrote that I would like to send to the United Nations seeking a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling. The current situation in the Gulf of Mexico presents a possible teachable moment. I realize that UN resolutions are non-binding, but it is a start and may someday become a treaty. Please note that I drafted this on my own and was not called upon to write a resolution. Thus, it may take many of us to get something to the floor of the UN.

You are in receipt of this draft resolution for three reasons: (1) you are like-minded and support protecting the environment; (2) I would like your input, ideas, expertise, and comments; and (3) I would like your help in getting the draft resolution to the UN visa vie the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or any other outlet you may think might work.

If you support it, I encourage you to replace my name with your entity’s name and re-word it to your liking . . . and submit it to anyone you feel might be able to help guide it into adoption. I put my name on it so people wouldn't be confused into thinking there was an existing resolution . . . please replace my name with your group's name if you would like to submit it to the UN.

I kept it short and sweet and tried to incorporate the requisite preambulatory and operative phrases required by the UN. If you have more knowledge or experience in drafting these types of resolutions, please take liberty in making any necessary changes.

I appreciate your assistance.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coal dust in Seward

The pattern of deregulation is common with all transportation of mining, oil and gas materials in Alaska; especially, when shifting companies and owners. I know that there are major auto-immune diseases in areas in Appalachia where there is Mountain Top removal for coal.

So far, the Native Corporations, State and Federal agencies have not been active (in Trust Responsibilities) at building Tribal and community capacity to gather important human health and environmental information on mining processes, including in the transportation. The only statewide organization advocating for protecting the environment and human health for Tribal Governments is Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (AITC), which now has a defunct Environmental Program due to issues of Alaska Native Corporations being recognized as Tribal Governments and conflict of interest in developing mining education projects for Alaska Village and Tribal Governments.

With the help of Western Mining Action Network, Alaska's Big Village Network, Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and KACN TV will be working on a mini-project to begin shining lights on these issues from an indigenous perspective for broadcast to villages.

Included will be information on how Tribal Governments can take action to get involved in overturning Corporate preclusion of Tribal Governments (emphasis on traditional, customary and modern use of resources.) The Tribal Governments should be receiving all applications for developments from companies (including Native Corporations) that impact all traditional, customary and modern uses of resources. Like say " a big mine that takes a lot of water from a salmon stream and discharges pollution into the watershed" where there may be multiple historic and cultural properties with modern customary use that can help future generations adapt to the changing climate. (DOI has a memo regarding 'landscape conservation' for creating adaptation to climate change).

Obama could possibly be making sweeping changes within each federal agency regarding Executive Order 13175. If Alaska Tribal Governments stand by, Alaska Native Corporations will continue to pretend that they are Tribal Governments under Ted Stevens 2004 and 2005 Appropriations Act that precluded Tribal sovereignty, self-determination and education.

Coal dust an ugly problem in scenic Seward

LAWSUIT: Groups say railroad needs to fix problem or get permit.

The Associated Press

Published: November 10th, 2009 02:00 PM
Last Modified: November 10th, 2009 09:39 PM

When the north wind blows in Seward, dust flies off a large pile of coal and covers the town's scenic boat harbor in black grit.


The facility was built in 1984 as a state economic development project to engage in the world coal market. The coal was transported from Healy to Seward under a contract with Suneel Alaska Corp., the purchaser of coal for the Korean market.

When Suneel ran the facility it was permitted as a coal-processing facility and was allowed under a permit to emit 87 metric tons of coal dust annually, Maddox said.

When the railroad took over, it was reclassified as a storage facility, even though nothing changed in its operation, he said. Because it's classified as a storage facility, the railroad doesn't need a coal-dust permit.

Red Dog gets setback over discharge permit

Red Dog is one of America's largest polluters according to the US EPA Toxic Release Inventories. A toxic pipeline to the Chukchi Sea isn't a great option considering the lack of biological and scientific information; including hunting, fishing and gathering impacts to indigenous peoples and migratory animals (caribou, sea mammals, fish, shellfish, plankton, whales, birds) Food Security is a growing issue for all communities on Earth as climate change and bioengineering of industrial seafood and mainland crops are proving to be unsustainable and miserably vulnerable to rapidly changing environmental conditions, including adaptive pathogens.


Red Dog gets setback over discharge permit

Natives in two villages have won a battle against the world's largest zinc mine over a permit they said would have polluted a fish stream that provides food and drinking water.

The Native villages of Kivalina and Point Hope challenged the Red Dog Mine's new water-pollution-discharge permit, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn features of the permit of concern to the villagers. The federal permit would have allowed more cyanide, zinc, selenium, lead and total dissolved solids into the Wulik River than is currently allowed, villagers said.

Enoch Adams Jr., vice president of the Native Village of Kivalina, has called the permit a "license to pollute." It was to become effective March 1.

The mining company, Teck Alaska, believed the permit worked on by the state and the EPA was sound, Jim Kulas, the company's environmental and public affairs manager, said Friday. If the permit issues can't be resolved by October, plans to shut down the mining until they are, he said.

Stopping production at the zinc, lead and silver mine near Kotzebue would have implications for Native firms, local governments and employees relying on Red Dog dollars. The mine is running out of ore in its main pit and needs federal permission to begin excavating a second pit that could keep the mine going for another 20 years.

Red Dog has struggled with its water discharges since starting up two decades ago. The mine has routinely violated some criteria within its federal water-pollution-discharge permit, resulting in fines and lawsuits. The new permit would legalize the discharges that have been problematic.

The Native villages say it's illegal for the EPA to relax the mine's previous permit.

Federal and state regulators said the changes would be OK because the mine's pollution discharges are not harmful and fish populations downstream of Red Dog have actually grown because the discharges contain a less harmful pollutants than the natural flow of water before the mine was built. The new permit would not increase the amount of pollution from the mine, they say.

After a review, the EPA decided March 17 that Teck Alaska will have to comply with more stringent levels under its 1998 permit. The agency told Mining News that it could restore the withdrawn portions of the new permit once better justification of them is developed.

Adams of Kivilina said, "Our village wants economic development but at the same time we demand that EPA protect our subsistence and clean water rights."

"The only thing we want is to be able to drink our water with some peace of mind ... and not wonder what is in the fish," he said.

Lawyer Brent Newell with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in San Francisco, said Red Dog has violated its old permit hundreds of times.

The new permit would have given mine operators even more leeway, he said. Not only would it have allowed more cyanide, zinc, selenium and lead into waters downstream from the mine, but also would have drastically changed the way the mine handles total dissolved solids or wastewater from the mining operation, Newell said.

Instead of measuring total dissolved solids at the end of the pipe where the waste enters the Wulik River, Teck Alaska would have been allowed a four-mile "mixing zone" to test for pollution once it was diluted, he said.

That would have allowed high levels of dissolved solids to enter the river, an important spawning ground for fish, Newell said.

"That is really crazy," Adams said.

In 2008, five Kivalina residents reached a settlement with Teck Alaska after a lengthy court fight that established over 800 violations of the federal Clean Water Act for discharging mine waste into the Wulik River, Newell said.

The village is about 45 miles downstream from the mine.

The settlement requires Teck to either build a pipeline to discharge treated mining waste into the Chukchi Sea, instead of the river, or pay a multimillion-dollar fine.

Adams said no one wants to shut down the mine.

"The only thing that we want is for them to build the pipeline," Adams said. "We just want them to be responsible."

support for mine

At least nine organizations in the Northwest Arctic have passed resolutions in support of new permits to allow Red Dog's expansion, including the Northwest Arctic Borough and tribal governments in Noorvik, Kiana, Kotzebue and Deering.

The mine is a the major source of private tax dollars and jobs in the region.

Teck still needs to obtain a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before it can begin excavation in the new ore deposit.

The Anchorage Daily News/ contributed to this article.

Last Great Race - Arctic Uranium

by Carl Wassilie

Elim Students and community protests Uranium exploration on Seward Peninsula along the world premier Iditarod sled dog race at the Elim checkpoint 120 miles from Nome.Funny Murray, an Inupiaq Para-professional in Elim, says that the students are leading the effort to raise awareness on the uranium’s destructive impacts to the environment, ecosystem and people. “The Elim Students Against Uranium (ESAU) researched how uranium development can cause damage to the health of the environment, plants, animals and people. They (ESAU) are speaking up for environmental justice here in Elim, the Bering Sea and the Arctic.”
Carl Wassilie, a Yup’ik biologist for Alaska’s Big Village Network, says that any industrial activity like uranium exploration can have profound impacts on the Earth's ecosystem, especially for people who continue to hunt and gather from the land and the water. One of the by-products of pulling uranium out of the Earth is radon gas, which can travel thousands of miles with a slight breeze and ‘falls out’ on the surface of the Earth into water systems, plants and animals. “Basically, people, birds, fish, caribou, moose and all animals living hundreds of miles away can get chronic and long-term exposure to radioactive fall-out that cause an array of health problems and cancer; especially vulnerable are elders, pregnant women and young children.”
“The board and staff of Alaska Community Action on Toxics stand in solidarity with the people of Elim in opposing uranium mining in the region. We believe that uranium mining poses a dire threat to the health and well-being of the community of Elim and other villages in the area. We will continue to work with them to protect the waters, lands, traditional foods, and public health.”
Since 2007, students and elders gathered for days out along the trail in Elim holding signs and giving mushers information about Triex Minerals and Full-Metal Minerals drilling operations. ESAU are leading the effort again, as the Iditarod racers, tourists and volunteers race through the friendly community that has always supported the Iditarod.

Elim IRA Council in partnership with the Center for Water Advocacy (CWA) will conduct research in relation to land, water and sovereignty rights of the Council. The CWA and the Council will work with the federal agencies on a government to-government basis to development regulatory standards and take other actions in protecting human health of the Seward Peninsula ecosystem from the impacts of uranium mining activity.
In the spring of 2008, the Native Village of Elim threatened to sue the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) due to the agencies failure to provide notice or comment to the community. The BLM did not provide any information at all about the Triex and Full Metal Mineral Mining Companies’ (Companies) proposed uranium exploration activities that affected the Elim Village’s reserved lands.
The immediate purpose of this demonstration will be to call attention to the efforts of many Alaskans to prevent further impacts to the human health, subsistence and cultural life ways of the Elim Village from uranium exploration and other mining activity. The broader relevance of this is to insure that the native villages and people, who have lived in the Seward Peninsula since time immemorial, are retained, preserved and protected. The people are signifying that Alaska retains its famous cultural and environmental diversity.

Location: Alaska