The Sunday edition of the Juneau Empire featured a front-page picture of a pro-Kensington Mine rally, during which Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dennis E. Wheeler and others spoke in favor of reopening the Kensington Mine in the Berners Bay District, in the historic Juneau Gold Belt.
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The picture's caption points out that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction in late August to halt activities that relate to the use of Lower Slate Lake in an appeal filed by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation Society.
During Wheeler's remarks, he "extended an olive branch" to those who have filed this appeal. Wheeler assured everyone the Kensington Mine will operate in full compliance with the Clean Water Act. He noted that planned restoration work will improve Lower Slate Lake's potential as a recreation site and encouraged the litigants to withdraw their opposition to the mine.
As a former regional forester with the U.S. Forest Service, former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and as current chairman of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Resource Committee, I have closely followed the plans for reopening the Kensington Mine. As a result of very intensive environmental and engineering analyses over the past 18 years - together with many public meetings and discussions - Coeur Alaska's plans and permits have earned the approval of federal and state agencies.
Our community, region and state have already gained many economic and quality-of-life benefits through Coeur Alaska's investments, including the employment of more than 340 people - 75 percent being Alaskans. As a result, the Kensington Mine has broad community support, including the Southeast Conference, and diverse political support as well.
Wheeler's extension of "an olive branch" was timely, and the withdrawal of the litigation opposing the Kensington Mine would help unify our community and region for the benefit of all.
John A. Sandor