I just learned that dozens of people have been laid off at the Kensington Mine because the paste tailings disposal plan has been put on hold.
I was at the tribal consultation meeting on Sept. 12 when a local official of the Environmental Protection Agency insisted that Coeur Alaska analyze yet another plan for tailings storage.
I had thought everyone agreed that paste tailings was the way to go. Even the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council supported paste tailings. So when the EPA official presented yet another alternative - and clearly favored it over paste tailings - it was obvious he did so for the purpose of stalling the mine project.
I've been told this official is a zealous environmentalist - so am I when it comes to genuine threats to the environment. But it is not OK when such people confuse their personal views with their professional responsibilities.
Had the environmental assessment gone forward as federal officials had promised, people would be signing up for hundreds of long-term jobs. Instead, many of our friends and neighbors will soon be seeking unemployment assistance or leaving town to find work.
I know many of the people who got construction jobs at the Kensington Mine. These were great jobs, the type of employment that allows people to move up in life.
Until the EPA pulled a fast one, I thought we were all, finally, working toward the same goal. I was wrong.
Retired tribal operations officer
Subsistence director, Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
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