I thought Rep. Bill Thomas's recent letter to "all Southeast Alaskans" was divisive, poorly timed and seemed to be out of touch with current reality.
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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Coeur's choice of Lower Slate Lake as a tailings storage facility for the Kensington Mine is illegal. In his letter, Thomas stated that Lower Slate Lake is the "best" choice for a tailings disposal facility, but an illegal choice is no choice at all, so why should he promote going forward with it?
Thomas's letter also suggests that the environmental groups are the cause of the current situation and accuses them of putting up blockades at every step of the way. A more thoughtful look at the history of the situation will reveal there are other players who have had a major hand in this.
I don't believe that now is the time for blaming and polarization. The situation that exists now in this moment is what there is to deal with, not the past choices that have led to this point.
The papers have said that Coeur and the environmental community have begun talks to see if there is some common agreement on a legal, environmentally responsible tailings disposal option that can be put into place and allow the mine to begin production in some expedited manner. These discussions are no doubt difficult for the parties involved, and it seems to me that giving both parties the gift of space at this time would be very helpful.
The best thing the community can do now is to try to listen to and understand all points of view in this controversy and look for common ground rather than differences. Give this dilemma some space and let it work itself out without any more divisiveness. If you think about it, there is a lot that we as "all Southeast Alaskans" do share in common.
Bill and I can agree on at least one point. The mine will probably go forward and operate. The question is when, not if.