SEACC only wants laws to be honored

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I read Edwin E. Johnson's well-written letter in the Juneau Empire (Feb. 19) with interest. He rails against "schools and universities all over the country turning out SEACC types."

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I don't understand Johnson's objections to our educational institutions teaching environmental responsibility. I thought they were supposed to be the seats of knowledge and learning.

While the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council has always been against irresponsible logging policies in the Tongass, the industry's decline is due to simple economics. Logging in the Tongass has always been the beneficiary of huge taxpayer subsidies, and the industry has never been able to stand on its own. The taxpaying public would and should be outraged if it knew the full story.

SEACC is not against mining, but only wants existing laws to be honored. The lawsuit over the Kensington Mine is an objection to a departure from existing law involving tailings disposal. Coeur Alaska had the appropriate permits for responsible disposal several years ago but chose to pursue a precedent-setting change in the Clean Water Act to increase profits. You might say Coeur is the architect of its own problems, but SEACC sure makes a convenient bogeyman and scapegoat.

Coeur Alaska has pulled out all the stops to demonize SEACC and its board of directors, of which I am proud to be one. Coeur has run full-page ads complaining, like Johnson, of the "Outside money," which is rather ironic when you consider Coeur's headquarters are in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and has mines in Argentina, Chile and Australia. As a SEACC member, I only can say I sure wish we had that kind of "Outside money" to run ads.

In his letter, Johnson alluded to "endowments and donations that have kept the likes of SEACC going." Unlike Coeur, a big percentage of our funds comes from our membership and fundraising right here in Southeast Alaska. Very few are against responsible industry. I am a businessman myself, and I certainly am not. But I am against self-serving misinformation in the pursuit of ever more profit.

Erik Lie-Nielsen


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