Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Sarah Palin's irresponsible development
Fresh from the twit:
"U.S. Supreme Court ruling comes down on Kensington Mine project today; stand by for good news on responsible development & great jobs for AK"
"Court's ruling a green light for responsible resource dvpmt. Kensington to produce up to 370 needed jobs for AKns. http://tinyurl.com/mbnd2j"
Lower Slate Lake in 2006. The photos show logging, clearing and road building around the lake. (Photo credit: Rob Cadmus/SEACC/LightHawk. )
Kensington Mine, owned by Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation of Idaho, had planned to pile its leftover debris on a wetlands on the other side of the mountain from Berners Bay - a solution embraced by environmentalists - but has shifted to a cheaper alternative. Taking advantage of a little publicized regulatory change adopted under the Bush administration in 2004, Coeur d'Alene Mines has obtained a federal permit to dump 4.5 million tons of tailings directly into a small sub-alpine lake near the mine, just above Berners Bay.
Panoramic satellite view overlooking the Kensington (yellow) and Jualin (orange) gold mining properties. Approval of the Kensington mine plan will result in filling Lower Slate Lake with mine tailings. Lynn Canal is in the foreground; Berner's Bay is at center right. View is toward the northeast.
Surrounded by forest and important wetlands, Lower Slate Lake is situated on a terrace at an elevation of 650 feet in the Tongass National Forest. Slate Creek flows from the lake about three miles downstream into Berners Bay. Berners Bay is one of Southeast Alaska's most outstanding public resources. Berners Bay encompasses a wide range of ecosystems, including snow-capped alpine peaks, old-growth Sitka spruce and hemlock forest, cottonwood floodplains, freshwater marshes, and saltwater estuaries. Opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, gathering, kayaking, air boating, and camping abound, and commercial tourism in Berners Bay has increased in recent years.
What Sarah Palin was twittering on:
By a 6-3 vote, the justices reversed a federal appeals court decision that the waste disposal permit for the Kensington gold mine 45 miles north of Juneau violated the federal Clean Water Act.
The court, in its majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the Army Corps of Engineers was correct in agreeing with the mining company that the waste should be considered as "fill material" and not subject to more stringent Environmental Protection Agency standards under the federal Clean Water Act.
The Army Corps issued the permit in 2005, three years after the Bush administration broadened the definition of fill material so that waste, including some contaminated materials, can be put into waterways.
Sarah Palin's mantra about responsible development sounds hollow as usual. The mine had the opportunity to dispose of their tailings in a more environmentally friendly (but more expensive) way. In order to maximize their profits, they took advantage of a shortsighted change in the rules so they could kill a whole lake and beyond, as Berners Bay will also suffer damage.
Sarah Palin always sides with the big corporations. The environment and wildlife mean nothing to her. There's nothing responsible in cutting corners for the sake of bigger profits.
The extra jobs would have been created even if the Supreme Court had upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals. The difference is who pays the price. Coeur d'Alene knows exactly how much money they're saving, but the damage to the environment and wildlife can't be translated into dollars.
This case sets a serious precedent and makes the Clean Water Act worthless.
But what is the value of clean water for people who worship their profits and nothing else?
I would really like to hear Sarah Palin's definition of responsible development.
This is how they voted:
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Chief Justice John Roberts.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and David Souter.