Environmentalists urged to
drop Kensington Mine appeal
August 28, 2006
Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski (R) voiced outrage last Thursday
over a decision released by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals
granting an injunction to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council
(SEACC) that will shut down all work on the Kensington Mine near
Juneau for at least the current construction season.
"The community of Juneau
stands behind this project as an environmentally responsible
economic development," Murkowski said. "There are better
ways than court action to resolve differences of opinion. Stopping
the project through an injunction will have a devastating impact
on the Goldbelt Native Corporation, on Juneau and on Alaska."
Among other impacts of the
injunction, Murkowski listed the following:
- Immediate loss of 300 workers,
most hired locally from Juneau
- Loss of shareholder jobs and
income to Goldbelt
- Loss of approximately 75 jobs
held by other Natives in Southeast Alaska
- Loss of subcontracting opportunities
tied to the Kensington Mine
- Loss or deferral of potential
property taxes to the City and Borough of Juneau
- Drop in associated economic
activity in Juneau and other Southeast communities
"This injunction is a
totally unnecessary delay of a quality, permitted project,"
Murkowski said. "Because of the adverse impact to Juneau
and to the state, I am appealing to SEACC to withdraw its injunctive
request as was done when the Northern Alaska Environmental Center
dropped its challenge of the Pogo Mine near Delta Junction in
May of 2004."
Today, Gubernatorial candidate
Tony Knowles (D) also urged three environmental groups to drop
their federal court appeal over tailings from the Kensington
The Kensington Mine is critical to Juneau's economic future,
Knowles said Monday. It's an environmentally responsible project
that should go forward.
The state should have been leading the effort to clear the hurdles
and resolve the differences among Alaskans. It doesn't need to
get mired in court, Knowles said.
At issue is tailings disposal from the mine. The current design
was chosen by the state and the U.S. Forest Service as an environmentally
preferred alternative. Three environmental groups - Southeast
Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), Lynn Canal Conservation
and the Sierra Club - filed a lawsuit against Coeur Alaska,
the mine operator, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The lawsuit was dismissed earlier this month in U.S. District
Court, but the plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court
of Appeals in San Francisco. Late last week, the 9th Circuit
Court issued an injunction against work on a tailings dam, pending
a final decision on the appeal.
Coeur has made a number of changes as a result of various reviews
by state and federal agencies and recently received a prestigious
federal award for responsible mineral development, Knowles said.
I urge Coeur to maintain its commitment to protect the Berners
This is a unique responsible development project that can be
done the right way and that specifically includes protecting
Berners Bay, Knowles said. Alaskans including the State,
the City and Borough of Juneau, Coeur Alaska and environment
representatives -- can and should move this project forward without
getting mired in the courts.
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