A CBJ mining ordinance designed to eliminate existing local control over developments at Greens Creek and Kensington Mines is on a fast track to passage Monday, May 19. This ordinance was instigated last fall by Acting City Manager John MacKinnon and City Attorney John Corso and helped along by Assembly member Randy Wanamaker who did the heavy-lifting as chairman of the CBJ Lands Committee (and has since been faced with a legal opinion stating a conflict of interest on his part). The Assembly Committee of the Whole will meet in chambers Friday at noon for a work session. I encourage interested citizens who are able to attend to show up, witness this process and communicate your opinions to the Assembly by phone, fax or e-mail before 7 p.m. on Monday.
I urge the Assembly to maintain CBJ oversight, through existing local ordinance, of permitting, development and operations of existing and proposed mining projects. This should include land, water and air pollution issues not adequately provided for by the state and federal agencies and habitat and socio-economic impacts on the Juneau environs. Eliminating "duplication" is one thing; circumventing hard-won public process is quite another.
Designating part of the Juneau Borough as "urban" and part as "rural" is artificial, given the reality of our surroundings. March 29, when Assembly member Dale Anderson addressed the annual meeting of the Juneau League of Women Voters, he waxed enthusiastic: "Go 10 minutes in any direction from anywhere in Juneau and you are in wilderness." We have the extraordinary good fortune to live in a glorious natural environment amid mountains, forest and sea. Most of us choose to live here because it is a unique and beautiful habitat for humans as well as wildlife. We are dedicated to protecting this heritage as we develop economically. Our elected representatives should not let us down. Besides doing harm to the quality of life, voting for this industry-promoted ordinance would result, once again, in extreme divisiveness within our community as our clearly stated public values are undermined, literally and figuratively.