What do you think?

Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2003

To our readers:

Last week's poll question, "Should Congress authorize a land trade involving the federal government and the Sealaska and Cape Fox Native corporations that could make land near Berners Bay available for use by the Kensington gold mine?," presumed that approval of the proposed land swap would, in fact, make land near Berners Bay available for use by the Kensington gold mine.

That presumption was disputed during the week's polling activity by Rick Richins of the mining company Coeur Alaska, who said in a statement the "land already is available via mining claims that Coeur currently controls."

Reached at his Boise, Idaho, home on Saturday, Richins told the Empire "the land we control through patented and unpatented mining claims could be developed at this time without the land exchange."

The proposed land exchange "has no impact" on Coeur's existing rights, he said.

The issue turns on the fact that Coeur's approved plan for the Kensington mine has evolved. Approval is pending for the new development plan.

The proposed land swap, whereby the U.S. Forest Service would exchange publicly owned land near the Kensington site for land owned by the Cape Fox and Sealaska Native Corporations, would facilitate development of the Kensington mine by Coeur Alaska under its new development plan, Richins said.

While some may consider the difference to be splitting hairs, the poll question was imprecise and misleading, rendering the results invalid. We thank the hundreds of readers who participated in the poll. We apologize for the misleading presumption that was included in the question.

We will revisit this issue in a future poll. This week, we are going to shift the focus. We invite you to express your opinion on a new question.

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