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Big donors against Coastal Management initiative

Posted: July 30, 2012 - 11:02pm

Opponents of the Coastal Management measure on the August 28 ballot have raised 10 times the amount the Alaska Sea Party has raised to promote the measure, with the state’s mining industry far exceeding its oil and gas industry in funding the opposition.

“Mining is the largest portion of our resource development economy, and they’ll probably have the largest portion of funding for the ballot measure campaign,” said Mike Satre, executive director of the Council of Alaska Producers, the state’s mining trade group and initiative opponent.

Many mines are in coastal areas that would be covered by the initiative.

While the opponents are sporting a bankroll in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the proponents are measuring their funds in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Monday was the filing deadline the Aug. 28 primary election 30-day campaign reports indicating who has raised the most money to fight the high-stakes battle over creation of the Coastal Management program.

Tapping into the cash-rich mining and petroleum sectors, the Vote No on 2 campaign has enough money to begin running television advertising.

The Vote No on 2 campaign has raised $768,000, compared to $64,000 for the proponents.

The Vote No on 2 group has already spent what it raised and more, and reports that while it has $31,000 in cash on hand it also had debts of $69,000 and an ending deficit of about $38,000.

It was the Alaska Sea Party that sponsored the initiative that put the measure on the ballot, with Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho and other coastal leaders as founding members.

The Alaska Sea Party reports that it, too, has spent most of what it raised, but has a bit less than $3,000 on hand and no deficit. Including the money it raised and spent earlier it has total income of $150,000 for the campaign.

The Coastal Management programs allows local communities a formal role in federal coastal decisions, but Alaska lost that ability last year when the Alaska Legislature failed to renew the decades-old program.

Now, by initiative, proponents are attempting to bring it back, with local governments among the measure’s biggest supporters.

Top contributors were the North Slope Borough chipping in $15,000, the Municipality of Skagway $2,000 and the Bristol Bay Native Corp. $10,000.

Those contributions in favor were dwarfed by those from opponents, with the Alaska Miners Association contributing $158,000 by itself and Hecla Green Creek Mine in Juneau contributing another $75,000 to the campaign.

Donlin Gold and the Resource Development Council were also big contributors to the fight against the measure.

The largest individual company contribution came from Shell Oil, which is planning to drill offshore in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, and an initiative supporter raised a concern about the Shell contribution.

“That deeply disturbs me,” she said. “Shell should be working with the communities in the Arctic about how they’ll carry out their exploration.”

Kerttula said the Coastal Management Program Alaska once had helped communities work with industry to develop their projects.

“What also disturbs me is that industry isn’t working with communities, this (program) is one of the ways they can work together to get development that everyone can live with,” she said.

Vote No on 2 spokesman Willis Lyford said in a press release announcing the fundraising totals Monday that the initiative would limit development.

“Our campaign fundraising results reflect the deep concern with Ballot Measure 2 among a broad cross section of businesses and industries that are the economic drivers of Alaska’s economy,” he said.

While the Vote No on 2 group had vastly more money, the Alaska Sea Party has many more donors, totaling more than 200 unique donors, with more than half contributing under $100 to the campaign.

While the owners of Juneau’s Greens Creek contributed a substantial amount to the campaign against the measure, its other producing mine, Coeur Alaska’s Kensington Mine, did not.

Satre said Coeur may still contribute, and he noted that Coeur was one of the members of the Council of Producers that authorized opposition to the initiative.

“Some have already stepped up to the plate, others are still considering their participation,” he said. “We’ll see what they decide to do.”

While Monday’s campaign contribution and expenditure deadline was the first for a campaign that has been going on for months, the deadlines over the next month will come more frequently to give voters an idea of who is paying what for the campaigns.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com

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