Sen. Murkowski Comments on Approval of Southeast Mining Permits

Forest Service OKs Exploration at Woewodski and Bokan Mountain by Helicopter

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of mining permits on Prince of Wales and Woewodski islands in Southeast Alaska:

“I remain committed to repealing roadless requirements for the Tongass, but in the interim, I welcome the Forest Service’s efforts to find a compromise that allows responsible development to proceed,” Murkowski said. “The ability to develop our domestic supplies of critical minerals is important both to our national security and to the economy of Alaska.”

The Forest Service on Monday approved permits for exploration drilling at a rare earth elements prospect at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, and at another mining prospect on Woewodski Island. Because both mining claims are located in the Tongass National Forest and affected by the roadless rule, drilling and other equipment will have to be flown in by helicopter.

Murkowski has repeatedly had to prod the current administration into making timely permitting decisions on projects within the Tongass.

“The administration continues to slow walk permit applications in the Tongass,” Murkowski said. “While these latest permits are a welcome step forward, I remain concerned that as long as the roadless rule remains in place that it will keep dozens of other potential renewable energy and mineral projects from ever being considered.”

Murkowski has had to make similar interventions to jump start the permitting process on the Greens Creek Mine and the Blue Lake and Whitman Lake hydro projects in the Tongass.