AIDEA Has Started the 404 Permit Process for the West Su Corridor
This week AIDEA started the process for the 404 permit for the West Su Industrial Access Corridor, a project that is both strongly opposed by the public and makes no economic or environmental sense. Additionally, due to your strong requests, the State has recently hired a 3rd party consultant, McKinley Research (formally McDowell), to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of this project. As with most aspects of this project, it is unclear why AIDEA would start their permitting before the true costs and benefits of this project are known and against overwhelming opposition from the public.
Public Opposition: The results of an incredibly robust public outreach process conducted by the Borough show strong opposition to the corridor in general and overwhelming opposition to a private industrial corridor, which is currently all that the $450 million would cover. As stated during the 2nd Borough public meeting, a private road could cost the state more than $1 Billion dollars.
The Permitting Process: The start of the NEPA 404 process is the start of a long series of events and will take some time for the Agency to process. We expect the first public comment period to start within a few months, but the timeline can vary greatly. It's important to stay engaged and keep an eye out for these opportunities - public comments DO make a big difference in the Federal permitting process. We need you to keep engaging!
AIDEA: While we are frustrated by this next step, we have also been preparing for it. AIDEA has a track record of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on failed projects. According to a recent report, "Alaska Megaproject Update, 2022" AIDEA's investments have resulted in a $30.2 Billion in lost opportunity that Alaskans would have benefited from if invested directly in the PFD. Additionally, while legislation has been introduced to change the AIDEA board structure, the Governor is responsible for Board appointments and oversight and could have requested that the AIDEA board wait to submit these permits - which we asked him to do - or find a different project that Alaskans want and that benefits our state (there are a lot to choose from!).
Nova Development: Additionally, Nova released a promotional video showing their vision for the area at the end of this industrial corridor. It seems reasonable that for a project of this size, they could finance their own road. Why is the state paying for this?The actual mining details start at minute 6:25 and include their plans for a detailed network of mines, slurry pipelines, conventional open-pit truck and shovel operations, autonomous vehicles, on-site leeching, and a central processing facility, only going into detail for 2 of the 21 sites they are looking at in the area. Imagine the impacts this would have next time you are out there....
This is the Beginning! While this is disappointing, this in NO WAY means the project is a go. We were expecting this next step to happen and all of us have many opportunities in the next year to engage and speak up for our jobs, hunting and fishing resources, recreational lands, and the way of life that keeps us all in Alaska and the Mat-Su.
We're Making Gains! While it may not seem like it at this moment, we are making gains! Because of all of you and your engagement, NO additional money was earmarked for this project during the 2021/2022 Legislative session, this is HUGE and shows that we all are being heard.
There's More You Can Do! If you're as angry and fired up as we are and don't want to wait until the Federal public comment period opens, there are a few things you can do now.
Write a letter to the ADN and the Frontiersman about why the West Su is important to you and why AIDEA should find a different project (we're here to help if you'd like any guidance or feedback).
Spread the word and educate users in the area about this project. We have information postcards, maps, and fact sheets we're happy to provide to your business, Airbnb, lodge, guiding service, hunting service, adventure service, etc.
Contact your Mat-Su Borough Assembly Representative. AIDEA regularly touts their partnership with the Borough on the project and their support for resolutions to move this project forward. Ask your Assembly member to hold a vote, and vote no on future West Su work.
Participate in an AIDEA Board meeting and tell them to stay out of the West Su, return the $8.5 million to the state and find a better project to spend their time on - their next meeting is June 29th.
Call Governor Dunleavy's office and ask him to direct AIDEA to find a better project.
Make a donation to support our work, this is going to be a long process, and every donation goes directly to our work in the Susitna Watershed.
THANK YOU! Thank you for speaking up, staying involved, and working to protect an area that makes our home what it is - the Wild West Su!