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Politics

EPA administrator to make multiday swing through Alaska this week

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will crisscross Alaska this week, the latest in a string of Biden administration officials to visit the state recently.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan will focus on issues of environmental justice and meet with Alaska Native leaders and others through Friday, a statement from the agency said.

The trip was slated to begin Tuesday with a visit to the village of Igiugig in the Bristol Bay region, where he planned to meet with community leaders to discuss environmental justice concerns, village efforts to deal with the impacts of climate change and other environmental issues.

The agency early this year took the rare step of stopping the proposed Pebble mine project in that region, amid concerns about “unacceptable, adverse” harm to the valuable Bristol Bay salmon fishery. The state wants the U.S. Supreme Court to directly take up its case to overturn the EPA action.

On Wednesday, Regan will fly north to visit Utqiagvik to see how that city of 4,400 is adapting to climate impacts and addressing contaminated lands and other issues.

On Thursday, he’ll visit the Anchorage area, with a stop at the Native Village of Eklutna. He’ll meet with leaders of Alaska Native corporations to discuss contaminated lands conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act passed in 1971.

On Friday in Fairbanks, Regan plans to join Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski to meet with community leaders about local environmental challenges.

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The trip to Alaska is part of Regan’s “Journey to Justice” tour that has included stops in other states.

[Native nations on front lines of climate change share knowledge and find support at intensive camps]

The Biden administration has sent numerous officials to Alaska in recent months. President Joe Biden himself is scheduled to visit Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage on Sept. 11.

The visits have included first lady Jill Biden touring Bethel with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in May. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg promoted infrastructure investments during a three-day trip this month. Senior adviser Mitch Landrieu and Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau also traveled around the state last week.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.

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