Supreme Court's Will Review Ruling on Kensington Mine
June 28, 2008
Governor Sarah Palin on Friday commended the U.S. Supreme Court's
decision to review a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that had invalidated
a federal permit for tailings disposal at the Kensington Mine
near Juneau. The state of Alaska and Coeur Alaska had both filed
petitions asking the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit
Court's decision, which had essentially forced the company to
relocate and redesign the mine's tailings disposal facility.
"This is a step in the
right direction," Governor Palin said. "Alaska has
stringent development laws and regulations. These standards were
rigorously applied by the federal and state agencies in permitting
the Kensington project. We are confident the justices will agree
that this project can be developed and managed in an environmentally
Kensington is a gold project 45 miles northwest of Juneau. A
Supreme Court decision reversing the Ninth Circuit and upholding
the original permit could allow for construction to take place
next year, leading to potential production later in 2009. The
mine is currently expected to reach as much as 150,000 ounces
of annual gold production in early years of operation. Over the
life of the mine, Kensington is expected to produce more than
one million total ounces of gold.
The Supreme Court's decision should also provide direction on
how certain federal technology standards, which are in addition
to state water quality standards, apply in determining the location
of tailing impoundments for future projects.
"We need the Supreme Court to decide once and for all what
the federal rules are for dealing with mine tailings," Governor
Palin said. "The federal laws have been interpreted differently
by different courts at different times. The resulting uncertainty
makes it more difficult for everyone involved in the permitting
of mines in Alaska."
"This is a very exciting
day for Kensington Mine, Juneau, and the State of Alaska,"
said Rep. Don Young (R-AK). "On average, only seven percent
of certiorari petitions filed are actually heard by the Court;
I think it's a great victory for Alaska that the Court saw this
as a serious and important case."
Young said, "One of the
biggest issues we have with developing our natural resources
today is the extreme environmental groups who look for any possible
grounds to sue and shut development down. I look forward to the
Supreme Court providing an objective review of the erroneous
Ninth Circuit decision that has been holding up a critical project
to help grow Southeast Alaska's economy. The mining industry
creates among the highest-wage jobs in the private sector"
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