By: Laine Welch, Story originally published on Alaska Fish Radio
Resource developers are pulling out all stops to muddy the waters about the push underway to update and strengthen Alaska’s salmon habitat protection law for the first time since statehood.
Since early January the group Stand for Alaska has raised over $2 million to stop a ballot initiative this fall. That’s 10 times more money than the grassroots group Yes for Salmon has raised in support of updating permitting laws.
Filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show that the opposition is bankrolled by deep pockets, mostly based out of state or out of the country.
Mining operations from Canada that have put in $200,000 each include Kinross Fort Knox, Pebble Mine and Coeur Alaska along with Japan’s Pogo Mine as well as Donlin Gold and Doyon, Limited.
ConocoPhillips has donated $250,000 and BP has paid half a million dollars to stop the ballot initiative.
Stand for Alaska also has spent over $132,000 to Bright Strategies which appears to be home based in London, $36,000 to Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Virginia, $20,000 to Anchorage-based Blueprint Alaska for voter outreach and lobbying and $10,000 to Dittman Research in Anchorage.
All aim to convince voters that that the salmon ballot measure would shut down a wide range of projects and threaten the Alaska way of life.
Meanwhile, half of Yes for Salmon’s $200,000 contributions have come from one board member of the Wild Salmon Center based in Portland. Trout Unlimited, the Alaska Center and Cook Inletkeeper also have donated mostly in kind services.
How does the grassroots group plan to outmatch the big spenders? Ryan Schryver is Stand for Salmon director
“Right now we are focusing on getting out there and talking to Alaskans about the importance of standing up for this amazing resource. We know that the opponents are going to be spending millions of dollars trying to confuse people about what this initiative does so we are pushing back with Alaskans talking to Alaskans about how we need to act now and vote yes for salmon.”
The salmon protection push must still prove its mission is constitutional before it goes to the voters. The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 26.
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