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Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, July 24, 2017

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
    | Opinion
  • Updated: July 23, 2017
  • Published July 23, 2017


Pebble project should undergo normal, rigorous permit process

Madisen Miller recently wrote (Letters, July 20) about the EPA's decision to withdraw its pre-emptive Proposed Determination against a mine at Pebble. A couple of points warrant clarification. The EPA's Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment was not twice peer-reviewed. Rather, the first draft was reviewed by a panel of scientists that included public meetings and a published record of their comments. The second draft was not fully vetted by the same panel and cannot be called peer-reviewed. Rather, the EPA intentionally limited the information it presented to the initial peer reviewers, did not share it between the reviewers, and did not let the reviewers see each other's comments. At best, it should be called a limited editing review.

Another interesting point about the peer review panel is what it actually said about the assessment and how the EPA responded to it. The peer reviewers repeatedly noted the deficiencies of the document as a decision document and that they expected detailed discussions about mitigation and other similar issues would be addressed through the permitting and regulatory process. EPA staff agreed and this was noted 59 times in the final report from the peer reviewers. Thus, the peer reviewers and EPA's technical staff thought the complex technical issues presented by developing a mine at Pebble belonged in the permitting and review process.

We agree with Miller that interested stakeholders should take the time to comment about the EPA's recommendation to withdraw its pre-emptive Proposed Determination and return to the normal, rigorous permitting process for a project like Pebble. Pebble, upon filing a comprehensive permit application, must still be reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act's Environmental Impact Statement process and secure a range of permit approvals from 14 local, state and federal agencies.

— Mike Heatwole
vice president, public affairs
Pebble Partnership

Bathroom ballot initiative

I wonder if folks who signed the petition realize that if this misguided initiative passes, transgender men will be required to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms in many instances. Seems ironic since the fear is all about keeping men out of these facilities. I hope these supporters stop long enough to reconsider what they are doing. Seems like the exact opposite of what many of them may have intended.

— Glenn Cravez

Voyage of self-fueling hydrogen yacht will change the world

The world voyage of a hydrogen fuel-cell yacht that emits no pollution and that creates its own hydrogen fuel from wind/solar power and seawater is a landmark voyage that should be re-reported from The Washington Post (AP, July 15). An excellent photograph by Kamil Zihnioglu of this $5 million yacht may be seen there.

This epic voyage marks a closing curtain on our oil age and ushers in a beginning of a hydrogen economy. Even car manufacturers are turning to hydrogen fuel-cell engines. At least one company has announced plans to make all of its cars run with electric motors. This movement toward a hydrogen economy has a potential to end man's role in global warming. Alaska's government should get this message, and diversify our economy, today, because boom times are over in Alaska from oil and gas as supply increases, demand falls, and oil and gas prices continue to decline.

— Daniel N. Russell, physicist

Trump is a disaster as president

Perhaps the selection of Mr. Trump Sr. can lay to rest the popular notion that a successful (?) businessman would be a good choice to manage the executive branch of the U.S. government. We see how that worked out. The disarray and discord is demonstrably disastrous.

— Ken Flynn

Whither the colorful fireweed?

Can someone who might have scientific knowledge of the subject please proffer a theory about what is going on with the fireweed this season? I've lived in Alaska since 1967, and frequently travel the road between Homer and Kenai in July and early August. Usually by this time of year the roadside is a sea of pink. It's been an age-old adage among many fishermen that when the fireweed top out, the silver salmon are hitting their peak. This year, however, the fireweed are scarce, and those that are there have tiny blossoms that have not even begun to erupt (also not seeing a lot of silvers). It is unlike anything I've ever seen. Maybe it's only on the Kenai Peninsula?

I'm sure I'm not the only longtime Alaskan who has noticed roadsides and yards so devoid of our favorite color.

Standing by!

— Cristy Fry

Kudos on smooth highway work

I have to say I am SO impressed with the company that's doing our yearly (summerly) road construction on the Glenn Highway. I commute back and forth to work and have not once been inconvenienced by road construction! What? I don't get to complain and rant and rave about road construction delays? How dare this yearly complaining of mine get taken away! I am so disappointed and at a loss as to what to complain about this summer. HA! Not!

I work seven 10s, week on/week off, switch back and forth from days to graves, commute from the Valley and can honestly say not once have I been in a traffic jam, held up, able to cuss, complain or get mad as hell. They have timed their work so well, been very fast and the highway looks ah-mazing! Good job, road construction company whose name I can't remember at this moment, but you better believe we'd all remember if you were horrible. Seriously, fantastic work!

— Brenda Bratley

Eliminating Title X funds would be big reversal for public health

I would like to address the devastating impact the elimination of Title X funding would have on patients, providers and the health system in Alaska.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have once again proposed eliminating federal funding for Title X, a move that would deny crucial and lifesaving care for millions of Americans.

Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic (KBFPC), a Title X-funded health center, is vitally important to Homer's most vulnerable populations. Other Title X centers in Alaska such as the Municipality of Anchorage Reproductive Health Clinic also rely on Title X as a bedrock element of their funding. If people cannot visit publicly funded family planning providers they know and trust for confidential, comprehensive and high-quality care, they go without that care. This often results in unintended pregnancies, untreated illnesses and undetected cancers.
Having worked at KBFPC for 14 years, I can safely say that the elimination of
Title X would have devastating consequences and reverse major public health gains we've made in recent years.

The elimination of Title X is out of touch with the majority of Americans, including Republicans. A clear majority (more than
80 percent) of Americans support broad access to contraception; 75 percent favor continuing Title X, including 6 percent of Republicans. ("Survey Says: Birth Control Support," The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2017).

The Title X program's mission is to help people both achieve and prevent pregnancy, while also offering cancer and STD screenings, services that hundreds of women and men in our area rely on every year. If this funding is eliminated, our community will suffer. We all deserve access to affordable care that fits our individual needs.

— Catriona Reynolds
executive director
Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic

Anchorage needs to prepare now for increase in homeless people

Mayor Berkowitz deserves credit for putting a Band-Aid on the static number of homeless people in Anchorage today. Unfortunately, Mayor Berkowitz lacks the imagination or political will to address homelessness in the future. Since 2000, the population of Earth has increased by 1.5 billion people and the population will continue to increase because people keep having babies. This creates new demand for housing.

While Anchorage is but a small percentage of the overall population of Earth, Anchorage is easily affected by the increase in Earth's population. Preparation for the needs of this increase in population requires that the leaders of today act today. Thus, Anchorage should be building several thousand units of housing a year to orderly plan and prepare for future growth.

Some of the benefits of large-scale housing development include jobs, economic development, affordable housing, job training, attraction of new businesses to Anchorage (because of the affordable housing) and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of optimism about the future.

Without the creation of new housing sufficient to meet the demands of the future, Anchorage will limp along with a Band-Aid approach and the numbers of homeless in Anchorage will increase. When I see Mayor Berkowitz around tow,n I tell him to get a job or get to work, because clearly there is much work to do.

— Jed Whittaker

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to

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