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I am writing to you in response to the article regarding the possible development of the Berners Bay region by the Kensington Mine and Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. I am concerned about the fact that this development may pose a serious environmental risk to the recreational, economic and intrinsic values of this unique place. I do not feel that anyone regardless of their political or economic ties has the right to circumvent the laws imposed by public policy and documented science. Keeping this in mind, I believe the EPA is correct in having issues with the proposed project and I believe that we as a community should as well.
The Kensington Mine is not a jobs versus the environment issue like Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., and certain members of the administration would like us to believe. In fact, over 70 percent percent of jobs associated with our national forests have nothing to do with extraction industries. This mine has been involved in the permitting process for over a decade and is currently permitted to operate outside of Berners Bay. This plan just allows them to expand their project while minimizing the amount of energy and resources used to protect the watershed.
Coeur is pushing its new plan because it saves them $55 million in construction costs, not because it is environmentally preferred. Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., has not turned a profit in five years and in April of this year nearly declared bankruptcy. Coeur is desperate for profit and this new plan sacrifices the values of Berners Bay, the Clean Water Act, and state water quality standards to achieve this end. To ignore these standards, we are sending a message to the business and development sector that environmental standards are subject to the whim of the moment. It is this thinking that has led to many of the large-scale environmental as well as socio-political issues of the world.
Mining and forestry are very important industries and I do not propose to disallow these activities on our public lands, but when you place the land itself at risk in order to benefit a select group of people for a short time, well, that sounds like the homeowner being taken advantage by the renter. Let's send a clear and concise message to Kensington that Alaska values the standard of life we have and is unwilling to let someone prosper at our expense.