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Politics

H.B. 77 Changed to Remove Chikuminuk Hydo Language

A couple of significant changes have been made to House Bill 77. On Friday the Senate Resources Committee adopted a committee substitute that removes language allowing a hydroelectric feasibility study for Chikuminuk Lake. Committee Chairwoman Cathy Giessel was presented with a letter earlier this week asking for the language to be removed. The letter was signed by State Senator’s Lyman Hoffman from Bethel and Gary Stevens from Kodiak as well as District 36 State Representative Bryce Edgmon from Dillingham. They asked for the removal of the language based on a decision by the developer of the proposed Chikuminuk Lake hydroelectric project to shelve the project in favor of other options. The other change included in the new committee substitute for H.B. 77 requires the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to develop a work plan related to Chinook salmon. Specifically, DNR would be tasked with sustaining enough water in identified rivers for the abundance and productivity of Chinook salmon. In a prepared statement, Senator Giessel noted that she supports the changes and she confirmed that they are also supported by DNR. In related news… Senator Lesil McGuire formally withdrew Senate Bill 32. The bill would have allowed the DNR to issue a special use permit for a feasibility study for the proposed Chikuminuk Lake hydroelectric project in the Wood-Tikchik State Park. As a reason for withdrawing the bill, McGuire cited the decision by the Nuvista Light and Electric Cooperative to shelve the project. House Bill 77 is scheduled to be taken up again by the Senate Resources Committee Monday afternoon at 3:30.