general guidelines for testimony

The following points provide general guidelines for testimony. These can help you draft testimony or provide a written comment that will demonstrate to Rep. Stutes, House Fisheries Committee and the state legislature that Alaskans like yourself support efforts to update our laws.
You can testify in person in Juneau, by going to your local legislative information office or by calling into this number:

844-586-9085

Testimony Tips

  • Introduce yourself and explain why salmon are important to you based on your values and your life.

  • Thank the Bill sponsor Rep. Louise Stutes (R) Kodiak and the Fisheries committee for their work to protect Alaska salmon for future generations.

  • Explain why it is important to continue to work on the legislation and add stronger protections for Alaska salmon to the law now and not just leave the status quo in place.

Key POints

  • It is time to bring an outdated law into the 21st Century by creating a more transparent, responsible and balanced approach to large-scale development projects.
  • Providing an opportunity for Alaskan’s to have a voice in the permitting process is a step in the right direction.
  • More work on HB 199 is necessary to truly protect Alaska’s salmon fisheries. The law also needs strong, enforceable standards to protect fish habitat and guide responsible development practices.
  • The current version of HB 199 is not there yet.
  • We can not sacrifice vital salmon habitat for large development projects.
  • We need a strong state law that puts Alaskans in charge of sustaining our state’s thriving salmon economy and way of life for future generations.
  • We need to hold foreign mining corporations accountable and make them pay for the clean-up of mega development projects on or near vital wild salmon habitat – so that Alaska taxpayers won’t be left holding the bill.
  • This measure puts Alaskans in charge of protecting our state’s thriving salmon economy and way-of-life for generations to come.
    We are looking for a responsible update to a 60-year-old law that gives Alaskans a voice in protecting our state’s most vital natural resource: wild salmon.
  • This needed update to the old law will help ensure we have common-sense protections in place, so nothing jeopardizes Alaska’s salmon fisheries and this cornerstone of Alaska’s economy and culture.
  • The legislature has had this bill in front of them for two years. The status quo is not working. If you don’t act, the people of Alaska will.

Overview

Alaska’s law permitting development projects in salmon habitat is outdated and ineffective. It lacks clear rules for protecting salmon habitat and creates uncertainty for the development community as well as all Alaskans who care about protecting salmon. Meanwhile, continued declines in our wild salmon runs and pressure from foreign mining companies put Alaska’s legacy of strong wild salmon at risk.
HB 199, “The Wild Salmon Legacy Act” was introduced as one way to update the law, to bring certainty transparency and stability to the permitting process, ensure Alaskans have a voice in protecting our legacy of wild salmon and promote responsible resource development in a growing Alaska. The legislative process is, however, an art of sausage making. Since it was originally introduced in January of 2017, HB 199 has gone through many amendments, rewrites, and revisions. While it provides some improvements to current law, it has been watered down and gutted from former drafts and no longer provides many of the protections Alaskans are asking for.
We are looking to solve five major deficiencies in current law. We seek to:

  1. Give Alaskans a voice in the permitting process by providing public notice and an opportunity to participate in important decisions that may impact Alaska’s legacy of wild salmon.
    (Currently, the law provides for no public process whatsoever)
  2. Create enforceable rules for habitat protection like protecting water quality, protecting instream flow levels, ensuring fish passage, and maintaining riparian areas that support the sustainability of Alaska’s fisheries and guide responsible development.
    (right now there are no rules or standards in the law)
  3. Give the Alaska Department of Fish and Game the authority they need to protect fish habitat and permit activities in the state.
    (Currently, ADF&G only has permitting authority over water bodies that are in the anadromous waters catalog which ADF&G estimates contain less than 50% of the salmon streams in Alaska)
  4. Create a two-tier permitting system to streamline permits for minor activities and provide more scrutiny for projects that are more complex and have the potential to significantly impact fish habitat.
    (Current law process all applications the same way whether they are for a stream crossing or pebble mine)
  5. Promote responsible development by requiring projects to avoid or minimize adverse impacts to fish habitat before a permit is issued and by preventing development activities that will substantially damage fish habitat and threaten the sustainability of our fisheries.
    (Under current law ADF&G does not have the authority to say no to irresponsible projects)

The new version of HB 199 provides for public participation and creates a two-tier permitting system but weakens or eliminates the other main objectives needed to fix the law to protect Alaska’s fisheries.