Coeur Alaska, the company hoping to develop the Kensington Gold Mine project, has been working the political system like a champ. They have our Legislature giving them money based on some supposed short-term economic development. The state has ponied up a nearly $1 million when it extended the road to Cascade Point. We've already given them an alpine lake so they can get dispose of the toxic waste. Are there any other natural resources or public monies that we should give them so they can employ a relatively few number of Southeast Alaskans and numerous residents of Idaho, Canada and other outside locations?
It has been very disappointing following this through the process. In the end, our so-called regulators will give their approval for this completely unnecessary project. They have tried to assure the public that, this time, technology will prevail and no harm will occur. That is the same tune mining companies having been singing for years, and it almost is never true.
Coeur's strategy to cut costs by dumping its waste into a freshwater lake is also illegal. More than 30 years ago, our country enacted legislation to put an end to using streams for waste disposal - the Clean Water Act. The bay and the rivers and streams that drain into it are public resources. We have the right to fish, hunt, camp and paddle in that area. Under the General Mining Law of 1872, Coeur also has certain rights to dig for gold. However, in digging for that gold, they must comply with all laws just as every other person or entity that uses Berners Bay must do.
We are all entitled to fresh, clean water and no company has the right to destroy that. If the value of what lies in the ground is not enough to pay for a legal mine, then it should stay underground. Coeur should have to pay for the proper disposal of its toxic waste. It should also pay for any roads and infrastructure that it needs. The state should not use our monies to subsidize this process. If companies such as Coeur want to use public resources to earn a profit, they should be allowed to do so only if they can do so without government handouts and in compliance with the law.
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