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Having recently spent a weekend boating and camping in Berners Bay, just north of Juneau, I have become very concerned about Coeur Alaska's proposed plan to industrialize the area. Berners Bay is an area of outstanding ecological, cultural, and recreational value for residents and visitors of Juneau.
Coeur Alaska, a multinational mining corporation, is trying to get permits to develop the Kensington Mine and dump tailings in Lower Slate Lake. This would set a dangerous precedent that would strip Clean Water Act protections from our lakes and streams. To make this legal, the EPA has recently redefined mining waste as "fill" instead of a "pollutant." In doing this, the EPA effectively washes its hands of its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect water quality. Coeur Alaska is also trying to build an industrial port facility at Slate Creek Cove.
It is not worth sacrificing Berners Bay for the short-term benefit of an outside, multinational corporation. Anyone who cares about the future of Berners Bay or about the purity of Alaska's water should come to a hearing on the mine next Monday, July 26, at Centennial Hall. Public testimony starts at 7 p.m.