Changes in environmental regs detrimental to Alaska

Posted: Friday, October 01, 2004

1. Over the years, Alaska's clean water regulations have been developed piecemeal and, in some cases, conflict with each other.

2. DEC's regulations need to be streamlined to make various permitting processes more efficient.

3. Every other state has a mixing zone regulation. To be blunt, reasons 1 and 2 have absolutely nothing to do with changing the current pollution prohibiting regulation. Regarding reason 3, not one of the other 49 states has a commercial anadromous fish run in their rivers -- any more!

If this proposed regulation is allowed to become law in Alaska, it will become a first step in risking the long term sustainability of salmon runs in many streams, as well as the health and welfare of indigenous fish and other critters which reside there. However, they are permitted by the state, pollution sources are not effectively monitored on a 24-7 basis. Depending on the pollutant, an inordinately large, short term release could go unnoticed and wipe out one or two runs of salmon (e.g., newly spawned eggs and very sensitive first-year fry) in a given stream. And nobody would be the wiser for four to seven years into the future. Fish hatcheries go to extraordinary lengths to assure the quality of their water because they know the risks of small amounts of pollution. The current pollution prohibiting regulation for our salmon stream rivers was adopted for that very reason.

DEC, under Ms. Ballard's questionable leadership, has been suspect in my mind, since she overtly advocated spraying pesticides on forest lands which contain salmon streams, and when she argued that tailings and other effluents from mines do not contaminate the surrounding landscape. She should visit Kellogg, Idaho, or Queenstown, Tasmania, sometime. Both are mining towns which resemble a moonscape!

This letter is an appeal to all commercial and sports fishers, naturalists, business people and others, who value the health and welfare of our salmon streams, to write to Gov. Murkowski to demand he and DEC give up on this ill-conceived proposal. It is my opinion, this proposed regulation change is being advocated by special interests, which can add to their profit margin, if allowed to let salmon streams be responsible for their waste management -- to the detriment of others! All fish and other critters which reside and-or spawn in Alaska's streams depend on the quality of their habitat to sustain their species. Salmon runs are a vital part of Alaska's economy, and those salmon runs begin and end in our streams. We, the people, should not allow any short term politician or bureaucrat risk emasculating our salmon streams for any reason known only to them.

Richard Hahn


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