We need to protect our natural treasures

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

The heavyweights have entered the Kensington Mine fray. It's an op-ed main event: Tim Arnold and Rich Richins of Coeur Alaska versus the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and the Sierra Club. All of their various and a sundry declarations can become confusing, unless you have been convinced from the start about who is right. Obviously, both sides cannot win, so we must choose between two nonrenewable treasures, gold and our natural environment.

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Gold is mined treasure and a nonrenewable metal, one regularly made into luxury item jewelry. It also spurs lucrative investment on money markets worldwide, especially when priced above $600 per ounce.

Gold mining professionals work convincingly at what they are trained to do, and the end-game wish of incognito gold stockholder, is not always in line with modern-day environmental practices.

Without some strong checks and balances, the old adage, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," is applicable. SEACC and the Sierra Club have simply chosen, and I believe correctly, to invest in strong checks and balances to protect our environmental treasures, locally, statewide and nationally.

When despoiled, all natural environments are arguably nonrenewable. Therefore we must provide protection with as strong a defense system as is humanly possible. Otherwise, who will? Will our summer tourists, who now come to Alaska by the millions just to see a whale, catch a salmon or float a river? Hopefully, but whether we are rich, poor or middle class, each one of us should have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share in a truly healthy environment. This seems to me to be sharing our natural resource wealth in a correct and morally fair way, while providing the potential for employment opportunities as well.

Alan R. Munro


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