Friday, 3 April 2009

Sarah Palin and environmental racism

Tracy Glynn, in a February 2009 article regarding the treatment of local residents in the El Cerrejon coal mine area in Colombia by the mining giant Anglo American, wrote:

Environmental racism has long been recognized as a problem. It has worsened in many ways as a result of government cutbacks in environmental enforcement and of softening of environmental protection regulation, also known as streamlining or deregulation. The "war on terror" has also been used to shut down groups that confronted environmental racism.

The term "environmental racism" was coined by American Reverend Dr. Benjamin F. Chaviz, Jr. over twenty years ago during a church commission on racism.

Environmental racism occurs when
- racial discrimination is used to determine the level of environmental regulations or enforcement.
- polluting industries are situated in marginalized communities.

- marginalized groups are excluded from decision-making bodies that determine the fate of their environment.

What a coincidence! The group most affected by the Pebble Mine development happen to be Alaska Natives and we can check all three of the above.

-The level of regulations and enforcement have already been compromised with the defeat of Ballot Measure 4, which counted with timely assistance from Sarah Palin.

-The polluting industry is situated in a native area, as already established.

-Alaska Natives are definitely excluded from the decision-making process regarding their future.

The environmental damage caused by Pebble Mine would be widespread because only a huge mine, benefiting from economies of scale, is economically possible at Pebble due to the low-grade character of the ore. The number of villages affected would be greater in a project of this nature than in a more contained one. An open pit mine the size of Pebble would cause major disruption to the area, regardless of the ethnicity of the population. The fact remains that in this case the local population is native.

Pebble and the Governor have been covering their bases quite cleverly. Together they defeated measures regarding the Clean Water Act. Now Pebble has started dispensing beads and trinkets to the native communities under the guise of "grants". And Sarah Palin has appointed an anti-native Attorney General.

Sarah Palin, in usual form, shields herself from criticism by claiming that her husband and children are part native, therefore she doesn't discriminate against natives. Apart from drawing dividends from two Native Corporations, they have very flimsy ties to native communities. They all live in Wasilla, in a nice, warm home and will not be displaced or inconvenienced by any of the mining operations in question.

Sarah Palin's "native" family will never find themselves at odds with her Attorney General in questions of subsistence and economic survival.

Some past governors had a bad attitude towards Alaska Natives. Too many people in Alaska have a bad attitude towards rural, native communities.

Sarah Palin had the opportunity to address many of the problems facing them: low representation in government bodies, exclusion from the decision-making process, inadequate infra-structure in remote villages, inadequate schools, under-investment in their economies, disregard for their subsistence needs and so on.

The way I see it, not only is Sarah Palin anti-native and racist, the "nativeness" of her family is just another political prop.

Tracy's article


Ennealogic said...

Regina! Off topic, and goodness thank you for the nonstop info about GINO!!

But you gotta check into this:

Todd Palin's half-sister arrested for burglary

In the never-ending saga of the life of the Wasilla hillbillies we have yet another side-story!

ctg said...

The concept of environmental racism is valid. But you are sadly off base trying to apply it to Pebble.

Environmental racism occurs when
- racial discrimination is used to determine the level of environmental regulations or enforcement.
This is not the case at Pebble. There is no evidence that the level of environmental regulations or enforcement is or will be less than at Rock Creek or Fort Knox, both of which are mines in Alaska; one in an area where about half of the nearby population is non-Native and one in an area where most of the nearby population is not Native.
- polluting industries are situated in marginalized communities.
This is not the case at Pebble. It is not a factory or chemical plant that can be built in a variety of places. It is situated where it is not because it is a Native neighborhood, but because that is where the mineral deposit is. Blame God, not racism.
- marginalized groups are excluded from decision-making bodies that determine the fate of their environment.Huh? Last time I checked, Alaska Natives still have voting rights, as well as a lot of political power. Which, of course, is a good thing.

Quote: The environmental damage caused by Pebble Mine would be much more severe because only a huge mine, benefiting from economies of scale, is economically possible at Pebble due to the low-grade character of the ore - which would cause major disruption to a greater number of villages. End quote.
What does this paragraph even mean? "More severe," than what? "Greater number," than what?

FEDUP!!! said...

LOL, ennea!
Good catch. Wonder what she was doing there - with her four year old kid in tow???
I am sooo glad this stuff is coming out - 'they' are trying to flamboozle Pres. Obama and blame any little fart that any of his relatives are letting go, so, now they can taste some of their own medicine!

O/T" I hope someone will get a video of the Levi Interview on Monday (don't have any more TV here...). I heard he and his family were told to shut up by the Palin and McInsane camps during the elcetion period. How could that be legal??? Another -gate coming up for GINO?

regina said...


It may be a coincidence, but when looking at Anglo American's track record, it seems God decided to put the majority of mines in the vicinity of native populations and in many cases in countries where civil rights in general, but in particular the ethnic minorities, are constantly abused.

If there was huge amount of precious metals, say, under NYC or a similar built up area, we would never know, it wouldn't show in satellite imaging and nobody is about to start poking holes through people's houses.

If God put gold near native populations for whatever reason, perhaps it was not his intention to have huge, white owned corporations digging it at the expense of the environment, wildlife and the local residents.

The damage to the area surrounding Pebble mine would be more severe due to the scale of the project because of the low character of the ore. The larger the area required for mining, the greater the number of villages affected. Roads, water consumption for mining operations, it all adds up. Plus eventual expansion, which seems to be a trend.

As for the rights of Alaska Natives, being able to cast a vote doesn't solve their problem of being under represented. Some Native Corporations may have a degree of political power which doesn't necessarily translate into direct empowerment at village level.

The state government track record regarding native issues is appalling.

The tone of your comment shows that we approach the subject from totally opposite directions.

I believe the cost of this gold is too high. In human terms, the natives pay the price. In environmental terms, we all do.


Anonymous said...

What is going on with Audrey's Blog? A Post by Audrey that say's "eeyore is cute," comments missing and unable to open comment page?

regina said...

It's very strange... It will be either very good or very bad.

I hope Audrey is OK.

ctg said...

Regina -

I approach the subject trying to listen carefully to rational arguments on all sides.

And you missed my point. I am not arguing that Pebble is good, or Pebble is bad. I am simply addressing the idea that the situation of Environmental Racism exists at Pebble.

I say no, and I notice you do not present any arguments rebutting my first two assertations, but simply respond in global generalities.

The third and final assertation you do address. But I ask you, is it true that Alaska Natives are excluded from decision-making bodies that determine the fate of their environment?

Underrepresented is maybe not the same thing as excluded.

And this is a side issue: good writing and use of language.
More severe than what? Half of a comparison is just bad writing.

And by the way, Pebble is primarily a copper deposit.

regina said...


I have encouraged readers to correct my English, which it's not my first language. Thank you, the post will be amended to reflect your observations.

I'm not familiar with the other two mines you've mentioned, but if you say the regulations are tight and they are in white areas, I'll go with that. It reinforces my argument.

My point is that the combination of Anglo American's poor record concerning native populations and the attitudes of the present state administration towards Alaska Natives indicates that there is environmental racism in the case of Pebble mine.

Had Alaska been an independent country, the natives would not have afforded the level of protection they have as citizens of the US and Anglo would not deem it necessary to be so philantropic.

ctg said...

Regina -

The other two mines are regulated by exactly the same regulations and laws that do and will apply at Pebble. How does that reinforce your argument?

And you defeat your own argument on the third point when you write, "Had Alaska been an independent country, the natives would not have afforded the level of protection they have as citizens of the US and Anglo would not deem it necessary to be so philantropic."

That's correct - Alaska and the US are far far from a perfect society, but still, Anglo will not be allowed to be environmentally racist here in the manner it has been in Columbia.

I am a little suprised to find out that you level such charges while knowing almost nothing about the mining industry in Alaska or mining regulation and oversite in Alaska.

And our present State executive is neither all-powerful in government nor permanently in place. Thank goodness.

regina said...


Being citizens of the US give the natives a degree of safety, hence the more subtle approach in the part of Anglo/Pebble.

Perhaps the one hope for the natives is some kind of Federal intervention, because at state level they've been sold down the river by Sarah Palin.

ctg said...

You put too much blame on the Governor. If indeed there is such blame to be assigned, the great weight of it belongs to the citizens of Alaska - not one individual.

FYI (because you asked) subtle approach on (not in) the part. I did not recognize you as a non-native English writer - your usage is better than much of what one reads on the casual internet.

regina said...


I do agree with you about collective responsibility, but my blog is about Sarah Palin and as a figure-head she leaves a lot to be desired...

I believe we have taken more than the planet can give us and the price is becoming too high. OK, the gold and the copper are there, but who stands to gain the most from the development of the mine?

That's why I turned my attention those who stand to lose the most. I'm afraid I don't believe in the assurances given regarding the impact on the environment.

The Kensington mine case is now being heard in the Supreme Court. Considering that the goalposts were moved and "effluent" became "fill", the Clean Water Act was turned on its head so there are no guarantees anymore. The justices in the Supreme Court are not too concerned about the environment or justice, as a matter of fact. They made a disgusting decision concerning the Exxon Valdez.

FYI, my mother tongue is Portuguese. I started learning English at the age of 23 and never attended a language class in the past 32 years! My school was day-to-day stuff, reading, talking, watching TV... I have a recurring problem with prepositions and split infinitives, but I get by.

I'm enjoying our exchanges - even though we don't agree about most things.


basheert said...

Hi Regina
I noticed that the upper left picture is the one of Bristol (not pregnant) Palin. You will all note that she is NOT pregnant (according to Lady Nailpins)...

If MY 17 year old looked like that, we'd be having a talk..

Sorry to be off topic!