February finds us with our hands full after starting 2019 carrying out the new message that is Alaska is Open for Business. Since Governor Dunleavy stood before us following his election, we’ve workedhard to ensure his message encouraging the mining industry to look to Alaska is carried out.
We started these efforts at Roundup Convention held by the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME-BC). While the Governor couldn’t attend due to events taking place in the Legislature, Melanie Werdon from DGGS spoke to the mineral potential in Alaska. Other key players in our state’s mining industry spoke to the investment climate following the election of a leader who publicly invites miners to the state and boasts of the industry’s accomplishments. We at AMA supplemented this message through meetings, booth visits, and sharing the recent interview Governor Dunleavy provided to the Alaska Miner on his vision for Alaska’s mining industry, citing his desire to see “40 or 60 more Red Dogs [mines] in this state.”
In my discussions at Roundup and elsewhere, I’ve also shared that the Governor has compiled a Cabinet of department leaders with impressive resumes. For the agencies that Alaska’s miners most closely work with, the Governor has appointed Corri Feige as Commissioner of Department of Natural Resources. Corri is a geophysicist and has been involved in permitting and regulation of oil and gas and mining projects for many years in Alaska. I have always admired her intelligence and passion for resource development and the environment.
At the Department of Fish and Game, longtime agency expert Doug Vincent-Lang has been appointed Commissioner pending the agency process involving the Boards of Fish and Game. Doug has lengthy service to Alaska though fish and wildlife management and brings this special expertise at a time we greatly need it.
And at the Department of Environmental Conservation, Jason Brune has been appointed Commissioner. While many of us know him from his time with AMA, I’ve known Jason for over 15 years when we worked together at RDC on issues much broader than mining. While various campaigns underway are attempting to smear Jason’s name for his employment by a partner in the Pebble Project, they are missing the mark in that Jason is highly qualified to lead DEC, with an extensive scientific background. Many don’t know that Jason arrived in Alaska to study environmental impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on marine mammals. He has served on various environmental workgroups and committees such as the Cook Inlet Beluga recovery team. Jason has had a longtime focus on responsible resource development – many of you have seen his business name, Think Globally Develop Locally (TGDL), and his hash tags in all communications regarding his beliefs. I think he’ll make a superb DEC Commissioner and I thank the many of you who have sent in letters of support for him.
Aside from promoting the investment climate in Alaska, we remain focused on fundamental industry priorities to ensure the industry can successfully permit and pursue mining development in our state. Two of our top priorities, resolution of mineral tenure issues and a secure process for the designation of Tier 3 outstanding natural resource waters are being addressed through special AMA workgroups and developing educational materials that provide background information and sound policy recommendations.
We continue our work to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running on all AMA priorities. I’ll keep you posted along the way.