Whether you support reopening the AJ Mine in downtown Juneau, or not, or if you think the possible revenue is worth the risk to the drinking water or quality of life, make no mistake; we are being sold a used gold mine.
The basic question of whether or not a mine almost three times the size of the Greens Creek should be developed in our drinking watershed has not been critically addressed as a dangerous risk. Instead, the idea of re-opening the AJ is being sold to the public slowly, in a manner that social scientists call “a creeping normalcy.” The city and mine promoters hope we will get used to the idea the same way we get used to wearing a constricting tie, ill-fitting shoes, water filters to clean polluted water to drink or gas masks to protect us from polluted air.
Given the division within the community in the 1990s caused by Echo Bay and the realization of everyone’s worst fear, the clandestine contamination of Gold Creek, it would seem to be the only promising strategy.
The watershed study is an example of what salesmen call the foot-in-door technique. Convince people to go along with a small request or commitment, making it more likely that we can be sold a larger request at a later date. Get a small “yes” leading to an even bigger “yes.”
The citizens of downtown Juneau and across the water in Douglas deserve to be asked if they even want an active mine because they are the ones who will have to live with the impacts. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly should respect the collective wisdom of the citizens and ask this question before spending our hard-earned money on studies and consulting and eventual ownership of a used gold mine. Plain and simple.