I'm going to leave the Native corporations out of this because they seem to have a point, and I'm not a member of Southeast Alaska Conservation Council or Lynn Canal Conservation, nor an employee of Coeur Alaska. I can only comment from the outside of an absurd issue, but judging from the mud being slung around, it couldn't hurt to remind everyone, like Jonathan Anderson did a few months ago, that SEACC is a citizens' advocacy group. What "power" the members have is the power of the individuals to petition their government, something we all enjoy. They are a group of concerned local residents working mostly on their own time and their own dime to track issues that the rest of us are too busy or too lazy to keep up on.
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So what if they get a little money to help them pay their legal fees, bring cases, and maybe pay a few people for their work? Operations like the Kensington Mine can outspend them any day, and as far as being funded by some "outside interests," well, talk to your representative about that one.
Who did the Native corporations have deals with? They had agreements with Kensington. Who should have brought them to the table in discussions with SEACC? Kensington. Did they forget? That's hard to believe. Maybe they were left out deliberately so that SEACC and LCC could swallow their poisoned pill and be forced into something they didn't agree on.
Those letter writers protesting the all-powerful SEACC should thank them for paying attention. Try Googling "mining environmental disasters" and reading some of the 1,300,000 results, many of them recent, and you will understand why we have an environmentalist movement. Coeur D'alene Mines, Kensington's parent company, has made its share of mistakes. Do you really want to curb the ability of citizens to petition the courts; or, like the mining industry, to do away completely with the environmental movement? Now that would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
The mining industry's got a poor track record. Before allowing them to operate in a sensitive area, to impact our renewable resources, I think it's a good idea to do what we can to make sure there are no more mistakes.
Thank you, SEACC and LCC, for asserting the rights that some of us seem happy to do without.
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