Coeur is the victim

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2005

For over a decade, I've observed as Coeur Alaska has worked hard with federal and state bureaucracies, fishing groups, tourism groups and even environmental organizations, to establish a safe, clean, feasible project at the Kensington mine. They have proven their commitment to Southeast Alaska. And now I'm glad to see the state has proven its commitment to Kensington.

Last Wednesday, I was pleased to hear that the state announced it would intervene in the suit filed by SEACC, the Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation. These groups argue mine operations will violate the Clean Water Act. This is simply not true.

Coeur Alaska has spent millions of dollars conducting environmental studies to determine the safest, cleanest way to develop the mine. Representatives have met extensively with environmental groups, even incorporating standards that go beyond the scope of what the federal government requires. And most importantly, Coeur Alaska has received all of the appropriate permits required to legally operate the mine.

They have the support of the Army Corps of Engineers. They have the go-ahead from the U.S. Forest Service. They have proven they are abiding by EPA standards.

With that in mind, the lawsuit is baseless. It will only tie up our tax dollars while potentially putting a lot of people out of work during an unnecessary legal battle. My son Matt has been working at the Kensington Mine as a commercial wireman since August. It's great to have him stay in Southeast Alaska and learn a good trade that makes a year-round livable wage. As a life ong Alaskan originally from Sitka, I am pleased that because of the Kensington there are job opportunities once again, because until now there's been a huge shortage of good jobs, unlike the 1970s and '80s, when I finished school.

The legal system is intended to protect victims. But the only victim here is a company that is doing its best to operate under the law, and in a manner that is beneficial to Southeast Alaska. I applaud the Murkowski administration for stepping in and intervening in this suit. It's what's right, what's fair and best for Alaska.

Mike Stedman


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