I love Southeast Alaska and I love Juneau - Alaska's capital city. I first came to Juneau during the late 1980s, in part to work on the Kensington gold mine project. That was over 17 years ago! After a period of time, my employer (and I) left the project, but Coeur d'Alene Mines carried on.
Following a decade in Juneau, I spent four years in Montana running a contract mine reclamation company and two years on small business ventures in Anchorage. Now I have returned to Juneau, and what a thrill it is. What a thrill to see the Kensington receive permits and start construction. What incredible longevity and perseverance by Coeur d'Alene in sticking with the Kensington through an extended period of low metal prices. That's a good thing for Juneau.
Since the initial investment by Coeur, our son completed public school, graduated college, and has become well established on his own. Indeed, a child born when Coeur purchased the Kensington would now be in college.
During that time, four environmental impact statements have been prepared, studying seven major tailings disposal alternatives and many other options and variations. The project has been incredibly well vetted through the public planning processes at the federal, state, and local levels. But, upon my return to the greatest little city of the north I hear the "no" word - the Kensington's permits are under court challenge.
Juneau cherishes political speech and opinion, and exercises it liberally. We love it. We are well attuned to the political and regulatory processes and participate with zeal. But despite that participation, there are those who reject the outcome. That is, they reject the outcome of 18 years of very public planning. Why - after all that time and effort - say no to this dedicated company with one of the best environmental records in the industry, no to the skilled local workers, no to the health and diversity of Juneau, no to the project's Native partners, and no to other Southeast communities that would benefit from camp jobs?
I'm back and I'm saying yes to Juneau, yes to its diversity, yes to a healthy buzz in town, and yes to a company with staying power. I'm investing my time and my money right here in Juneau and doing all I can to support a diverse and thriving community. It's darned good to be back.