Officials with the governments of British Columbia and Alaska today signed an agreement establishing a bilateral working group that will build on and enhance water quality monitoring, environmental assessments and permitting relating to trans-boundary mines and development in both jurisdictions.
The Statement of Cooperation on the Protection of Transboundary Waters (SoC) was signed by British Columbia Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, British Columbia Minister of Environment Mary Polak and State of Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallot.
The SoC implements Section 2 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), originally signed between British Columbia and Alaska in November 2015, that recognized and formalized the mutual commitment of Alaska and British Columbia to protect and enhance the shared environment, including trans-boundary rivers, watersheds and fisheries – for the benefit of both jurisdictions.
Implementation of the SoC will be overseen by a bilateral working group, consisting of the commissioners of the Alaska Departments of Environmental Conservation, Fish and Game and Natural Resources and the deputy ministers of the British Columbia ministries of Energy and Mines and Environment who will:
- Establish and oversee a technical working group on water monitoring who will identify a reliable and accurate process for the collection, summary and distribution of baseline, regional and project-specific water quality data;
- Look for opportunities to build on and enhance participation in environmental assessments and permitting relating to mines and development; and,
- Identify and share reports on mine discharges, operations and closure.
In addition, the bilateral working group will build on collaboration between Alaska and British Columbia that is already taking place in the Transboundary region, and continue to facilitate constructive dialogue and the cooperative and mutually beneficial relations it engenders.
Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett –
“I want to thank Alaska Governor Walker and LG Mallott for their cooperation. British Columbia and Alaska have a long history of working together and supporting each other, as good neighbours do. This Statement of Cooperation between British Columbia and Alaska ensures we are working together effectively on trans-boundary water quality, environmental assessments and permitting for mine projects.”
Minister of Environment, Mary Polak –
“This agreement will improve cooperation between B.C. and Alaska, allowing us to better manage, protect and enhance our shared environment for generations to come.”
State of Alaska Lieutenant Governor, Byron Mallot –
“I am pleased that we were able to move forward with this measure. It is another step in Alaska’s commitment to open and transparent collaboration with our Canadian neighbours on the vital issue of safeguarding our precious transboundary watersheds that feed our people and nourish our cultures.”
For a backgrounder on the Statement of Cooperation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BC_Alaska_Statement_of_Cooperation_MOU.pdf