Commissioner Menge should know better

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In his recent My Turn article ("Pebble Mine critics should keep their powder dry," April 3), Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Michael L. Menge stated that there was "no clear target" at which to direct criticism of the proposed Pebble Mine. Baloney. Mr. Menge knows better.

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The truth is that Northern Dynasty itself has already provided the public with more than enough specific information to justify vigorous public opposition. Northern Dynasty has told us that the Pebble Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, that it would involve grinding up billions of tons of ore and subjecting it to a cyanide concentration process, that those billions of tons of toxic tailings would have to be "stored" at the site indefinitely, and that the concentrated ore "slurry" would have to be transported to Cook Inlet via a new 70-mile-long slurry pipeline across several virgin, unroaded salmon spawning streams.

Northern Dynasty's plans clearly show that the mine complex would cover a surface area of 18 to 20 square miles, roughly the size of Manhattan. They have also acknowledged the indisputable fact that the mine would sit squarely on the watershed of two of the world's most productive salmon spawning rivers, the Koktuli/Mulchatna and the Iliamna. Northern Dynasty has also admitted that a mine of this magnitude will inevitably have a negative impact on salmon spawning habitat and they have attempted to appease us by claiming that there will be "no net loss" in the size of local salmon runs. That is, they will attempt to artificially improve other local spawning streams to compensate for the ones the mine complex will destroy. In Canada, the "no net loss" policy has proven to be an utter failure - impossible to measure or enforce - and artificial habitat improvement has often failed.

Mr. Menge and the Department of Natural Resources are the same folks who tried to convince Alaskans that allowing "mixing zones" for pollutants in salmon spawning streams would also be good for our state, when in fact, just like the proposed Pebble project, it would benefit corporate profits, not average Alaskans or our renewable salmon resources.

Apparently, none of that constitutes a "clear target?" Why do I keep seeing images of a fox guarding a hen house?

Ray Fowler


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