by Phillip Manning ~ November 15th, 2013
The group of seven Alaska Native Corporations that own land in the area of the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project are expressing concerns that their interests will not be adequately represented in the Alaska Energy Authority’s initial study reports next February. The Cook Inlet Region Working Group sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday citing their concerns.
On October 30th, AEA requested approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how their Initial Study Reports should be released. AEA’s letter says that the reports will include study methods, results, future plans, and variances from the original study plan. The Cook Inlet Region Working Group’s letter says that they want more explicit requirements that the study report include issues that impact the Alaska Native Corporation landowners. Included in what the working group wants are: descriptions of trespass incidents and measures to prevent future trespassing issues, the impact on study progress from lack of access to Alaska Native Corporation lands, descriptions of cultural and historic resources found, health and safety measures, status of negotiation for future Alaska Native Corporation land use, and alternative plans, should land access be denied in 2014.
The working group’s letter comes after more than a year of negotiation with AEA regarding access to Alaska Native Corporation land. In both 2012 and 2013, the corporations claim that trespasses occurred, and permission to conduct studies on the land has still yet to be granted. Emily Ford, spokeswoman for AEA, says in an email statement that AEA remains committed to working with CIRI and the Cook Inlet village corporations, and that they are taking the issue seriously.