Pebble mine issue separates Lindbeck, Young

While agreeing on several fisheries issues, Lindbeck opposes and Young takes no stand specifically against the mine

When it comes to issues critical to commercial fisheries issues, the views of U.S. House hopeful Steve Lindbeck and incumbent Rep. Don Young, R- Alaska, are similar on issues ranging from pirate fishing to the need for more fisheries research.

Lindbeck, a former journalist, University of Alaska Anchorage vice chancellor, and director of the Alaska Humanities Forum, issued his 12 priorities on Oct. 12 on supporting Alaska’s commercial fisheries.

They range from reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act without compromising the national commitment to sustained yield to improving and expanding loan programs to help young fishermen, and strengthening provisions to allow communities to hold quota share to keep fishing jobs local and boost economies in fishing communities.

Young also lists these matters among his priorities.

Where they differ is on individual positions on the proposed Pebble mine.

Lindbeck has stated his support for protecting “the world’s greatest salmon fishery by opposing the Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.”


Young, in a lengthy response to a request for his fisheries priorities, listed 11 priorities, plus 13 of what he considers to be his important Alaska fisheries successes in Congress, but never specifically mentions the Pebble mine.

Young has instead at various times levied attacks not at the proposed mine project at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, but at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, particularly in its review under section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act.

“My concern for this process is much bigger than the Pebble Mine, in my eyes this isn’t even about the Pebble Mine,” Young said in a statement released on Feb. 28, 2014. “For the EPA to preemptively oppose a project located entirely on state land, a project already subject to a rigorous state permitting process, is a serious threat to any future projects on state of Alaska, Alaska Native, or even individually owned private land.

“ … I will be very clear, this overstep by the EPA today could mean the loss of our state to the federal government,” he said.

More recently, in a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee held in June of this year in which the Pebble mine and the EPA were in the spotlight, Young’s presence was limited to brief opening remarks before he left to attend a subcommittee hearing on commercial space travel. Young said in a written statement later that the hearing was really meant to examine the actions of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the National Environmental Policy Act, rather than to debate the pros and cons of the Pebble mine and whether the project should ultimately move forward.

On other commercial fisheries issues, such as reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, they shared priorities.

Young, who sponsored H.R. 1335, the House version of the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization, noted that the bill has passed the House with bipartisan support and is now awaiting action in the Senate. His bill, said Young, includes efforts to increase flexibility and transparency for fisheries managers, authorizes use of electronic monitoring for data collection, research and compliance, and creates certainty for coastal communities dependent on stable fishing activities.

Lindbeck did not comment directly on H.R. 1335, but said it was important to reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens without compromising the national commitment to sustained yield.

Both Lindbeck and Young support the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, which would permanently exempt small boat fishermen from needing permits for deckwash and other incidental discharges.

Such discharges, said Lindbeck, “pose no environmental harm.”

VIDA, said Young, “will end the patchwork of confusing and conflicting ballast water regulations currently enforced by multiple federal and state agencies.”

On pirate fishing and illegal imports, Lindbeck said he supports stricter tracking to prevent unregulated fishing, enforce seafood import rules, and hiring needed fisheries enforcement officers.

Young is on record supporting H.R. 774, the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on Nov. 5, 2015. The bill imposes added sanctions on countries whose vessels engage in IUU fishing, and aims to ensure millions of pounds of illegally caught produce never reach market.

Lindbeck’s list includes protecting Southeast Alaska fisheries by supporting a review of proposed mines in British Columbia near transboundary rivers by the International Joint Commission, and a moratorium on new Canadian permits.

Young, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, has urged the State Department to appoint a special representative for U.S.–Canada transboundary issues. Young said he has personally met with government officials in the State Department and from Canada, is pleased with the memorandum of understanding reached by Alaska and British Columbia, and believes there is still much work to be done.

Both men support increased funding for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, Sea Grant and the U.S. Coast Guard, including new icebreakers. Young has, through his House committee assignments, requested millions of dollars for these entities, including $164.7 million for NMFS for fisheries data, collections, surveys and assessment; $34.3 million for regional fisheries councils, and $1 billion for a new heavy icebreaker in the upcoming Defense Appropriations package.

Lindbeck supports promoting Alaska seafood jobs by replacing Russian Pollock with Alaska Pollock in federally-funded school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

Young is an original cosponsor of HR 3806, the Alaskan Pollock and Golden King Crab Labeling Act, which is still before the House. The legislation would change the market name of “Alaska pollock” to “Pollock,” to stem the flood of mislabeled fish from less sustainable fisheries that harm U.S. pollock fishermen.

Young also supports increasing use of Alaska seafood in federally funded school lunch programs.