I would like to express a viewpoint about the Kensington Mine and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's lawsuit.
SEACC is not against the mine, but rather the way Coeur is planning to dispose of its waste. SEACC is trying to protect a resource - clean water - that many Alaskans take for granted. My parents reside in the state of Idaho where many of the lakes and rivers are so polluted from mine tailings from Coeur and other mining companies that it is no longer safe to eat the fish. Is this a risk we are prepared to take? If Coeur is allowed to dump its waste into Lower Slate Lake, then the same could happen anywhere in the state, and before we know it, we may be faced with similar problems as Idaho. This isn't progress. It's a huge step backward that we Alaskans ought to think long and hard about.
Working in the trades, I understand the value of a good-paying job and can see why some might be upset with SEACC's lawsuit, but I feel it is most important to ask ourselves what we are willing to give up in return for these mining jobs. This mine is not worth risking our clean water and all the fishing and tourism jobs that depend on it. There are other ways to create jobs in this community without destroying our environmental assets. Why not demand more emphasis on construction jobs that enhance our community, such as building more affordable housing without gambling away our resources?
Alaska is one of the last places in America that still has resources worth fighting for. In the long run, clean water, untouched forests and healthy wild salmon populations will provide more jobs than this mine project. We can learn from other states and focus on keeping our ecosystems intact for future generations, or we can continue to destroy our unique resources for the sake of linear thinking and immediate satisfaction.