JUNEAU, Alaska — Attorneys for the state and Alaska group Stand For Salmon presented arguments Tuesday in a case over Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott’s rejection of a proposed pro-fisheries ballot measure.
The future of Pebble Mine, the Susitna dam and any trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline could be impacted by the outcome of the appeal. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner heard arguments from both sides, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2z0BFB4 ).
Stand for Salmon filed the appeal after Mallott ruled last month that the measure was unconstitutional. Mallott said the proposal called for specific appropriations and that was against the Alaska’s constitution.
The group’s proposal called for improved vetting of all construction projects that impact salmon streams, and attempts to declare all Alaska waterways as salmons streams unless proved otherwise. Stand for Salmon attorneys contend that the initiative would allow projects to progress as long as they later make good the damage they do to salmon waters.
The state’s attorneys countered that the hurdles for projects are so great that few — if any — would be able to leap them.
“There’s no way to build some of these projects without de-watering (fish) habitat,” Assistant Attorney Elizabeth Bakalar said.
If Rindner overrides Mallott’s rejection, the measure could still face a long road in becoming law.
The losing side could appeal the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court. And barring an injunction, Stand for Salmon is expected to begin gathering signatures to place the initiative on the fall 2018 ballot. It would need more than 32,000 signatures before January to get on the ballot.
The state’s leading mining, drilling and construction organizations have already voiced their objection and their willingness to oppose it at the ballot box.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com