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Native Village of Kivalina, Alaska

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Plans by Cominco Alaska Inc. to boost production at its Red Dog mine northeast of Kotzebue struck another regulatory snag. It wants to use a new generator and two diesel-powered boilers at the huge zinc and lead mine's port and wants necessary state permits to create an "air exclusion zone." Such zones around industrial facilities in the Lower 48 often are surrounded with barbed wire, bright lights, gates and security guards. At the Red Dog port, the area would extend offshore into tideland areas sometimes used by locals. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to Cominco at mid-month saying the state Constitution won't allow public access to tidelands to be restricted - came shortly after objections submitted by Kivalina villagers, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Trustees for Alaska, an Anchorage environmental law firm. The tribal government for the village some 20 miles northwest of the port, said it would infringe on subsistence hunting if the public were restricted. Seals gather around the port, and the area is a migratory route for beluga and bowhead whales. Villagers routinely cross the tidelands by snow machine in winter. Some tidelands around the port already are off-limits, the tribe said.