Borough Assembly members agreed to apply for a $500,000 Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) Renewable Energy Fund grant to fund an environmental review for the West Creek Hydroelectric project. Only Assemblyman Gary Hanson voted against it.
Jeff Brady spoke against wording within the resolution, including that the municipality wishes to move forward with the licensing of the project.
“There has never been a vote of the people for this project, and I don’t think the statement that moving forward with licensing is justified – especially for a controversial project,” Brady said. “A more accurate wording would be that you want to continue with a licensing application feasibility study.”
Brady asked about the status of a hydrology study on the project and the possibility of the Moon Lake project in the Yukon.
Stan Selmer spoke in favor of the grant, commenting on the amount of pollution and exhaust currently experienced in town from the cruise ships, the incinerator and the railroad.
“I think we need to become a little less greedy and a little more attentive to what needs to be done in this town to make sure that we have a future here,” he said.
[quote_right]“I think we need to become a little less greedy and a little more attentive to what needs to be done in this town to make sure that we have a future here,” he said. [/quote_right]
Assemblyman Gary Hanson asked if the $500,000 would be enough.
“What if $500,000 just gets us started? And we transfer the project to our name and it turns out that $500,000 doesn’t even get us a NEPA report… then we’re on the hook for more,” he said.
But Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. said they would just apply for more grants, adding that the project can’t be sent to the voters for approval without providing detailed information such as the environmental review.
“I think we should follow through on as much studying as we deem necessary,” he said. “Then the public can look at it and say, ‘Yes, we want to vote on it.’”
Hanson said the vote should be sent to the public as soon as possible.
“We are going forward with a project that I don’t think has public support.”