Executive Summary for June 17th

In this weekly roundup, we review and analyze the latest news and key developments in the Arctic, including the fate of Alaska offshore oil leases and environment concerns over metal mining.

Published on June 17, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Decision Over Fate of Alaska Offshore Oil Lease Sales Rests with Interior Department

Almost 400 international climate, Arctic and marine scientists have signed a letter pressing the U.S. government to end offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, the Guardian reported.

The environmental and climate risks associated with additional fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic would be too great, argued the signees, which includes researchers from 13 countries and 25 professors at the University of Alaska, according to the CBC.

Drilling advocates say that excluding the Arctic areas from the next round of lease sales limits the health and future of Alaska’s economy, reported the Alaska DIspatch News.

Thursday marked the end of the public comment period on the draft offshore drilling plan. No additional leases can be added to the plan, but the U.S. Interior Department could decide to stop the three planned sales.

Alaska Tribal Groups Concerned About Canadian Mines

A group representing 15 tribes in southeastern Alaska is in Ottawa to ask the Canadian government to stop copper and gold mines in British Columbia from polluting rivers that flow from Canada to Alaska, reports the Canadian Press.

The Alaska group is concerned that the metal mines could affect three transboundary salmon rivers – the Taku, Stikine and Unuk – should their mine tailings dams fail.

The 2014 collapse of the Mount Polley tailings pond released about 17 million cubic meters (600 million cubic feet) of water and 8 million cubic meters (283 cubic feet) of tailings materials into nearby waterways. No charges were laid against the company, owned by Imperial Metals, DeSmog Canada reported in December.

The delegation wants tribal and Indigenous governments to have a say in decisions that would affect the future of the rivers, and have asked the U.S. State Department to move the matter to the International Joint Commission, an organization created in 1909 to resolve disputes over the waters along the U.S.-Canadian boundary.

Greenland: Is the E.U. an Option?

Delays in diversifying Greenland’s economy has some politicians and business leaders saying the country should consider rejoining the E.U., reports Reuters.

Thirty years ago, a referendum vote to quit the E.U. narrowly passed in Greenland. Since then, the economy has remained tied to fisheries, which represent roughly 90 percent of its exports. Efforts to diversify the Greenland economy with mining projects have been stymied by global commodity prices.

But Prime Minister Kim Kielsen told Reuters that many Greenlanders want more distance from the E.U. There are fears that rejoining might come with pressure from Brussels to open fishing grounds and the potential for quarrels over seal and whale hunts.

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