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Tribes, enviros petition commerce secretary on mines

Alaska Native and conservation groups asked the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to investigate six hard-rock mines in British Columbia this week.

The groups, which include 18 tribal and conservation organizations based in Southeast Alaska, believe the mines pose a threat to Southeast water quality. The petition asks Secretary Wilber Ross to pursue federal-level intervention with Canada to establish legal repercussions should Canada’s mines pollute shared waters.

They’re calling for intervention through what’s called the 1971 Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act. The groups have petitioned the U.S. Secretary of the Interior with a similar request before.

The letter urges the Secretary to engage other federal agencies in calling for a referral of the issue to the International Joint Commission. A similar request was sent to the Interior Department last year by the Alaska’s congressional delegation, but it was denied.

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