One of the main sponsors of the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative, Brian Kraft, said he has begun the process of removing his name from the initiative. Kraft owns the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge in Bristol Bay. The lodge is frequented by people in the resource industry. He has been an outspoken critic of the Pebble Mine.
In a statement sent to The Alaska Landmine Kraft said:
Due to tremendous time commitment with my other businesses and my family I cannot devote the necessary time and energy that a sponsor needs to devote for an initiative. Thus, I have decided to step away as a sponsor so that someone else can devote the necessary time and energy to the Stand for Salmon initiative. This does not change my opinion that the State of Alaska needs to examine existing habitat permitting and protection for salmon rivers.
In September, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott rejected the initiative because he said it would prioritize salmon over resource development projects and therefore would be unconstitutional because it would prioritize one state resource over another. Stand for Salmon sued to overturn the decision and won. Now, the state is taking the matter to the Alaska Supreme Court. If the state loses, the ballot initiative will appear on the 2018 ballot.
Many in the resource industry feel the initiative goes too far and will restrict all resource projects in Alaska, not just mining projects. Which creates an interesting situation. Pebble Mine is extremely controversial but it has been limited to Bristol Bay. Now that this onerous initiative is threatening all resource projects in Alaska, people are rightfully fighting it.
Many folks I spoke with today at the annual Resource Development Council (RDC) conference indicated they had heard Kraft was getting significant pressure to remove his name from the initiative because a significant portion of his business comes from the RDC crowd.
At the RDC conference today, representatives of the fishing industry even announced its opposition, indicating policy by ballot initiative is a poor approach. Fishing joined oil, gas, mining, timber, and tourism in opposing this initiative during statements at the RDC conference.
The ANCSA CEOs have also taken a position against the initiative. Rex A. Rock Sr. of ASRC and Sophie Minich of CIRI wrote a compass piece a few weeks ago urging people to not sign the signature books. Click here to see it.
Even Bristol Bay Native Corporation, who is against Pebble Mine, is against the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative. Sounds like the Stand for Salmon folks have a rough road ahead. This is why these decisions are better made by lawmakers instead of through the ballot initiative process.