From the diaries by Erick
Couer, a Canadian mining firm – no American firm is much interested in trying to do business in Alaska – just prevailed today before the USSC in its appeal of the 9th Circuit’s order stopping work on the Kensington Mine, a gold prospect, near Juneau. This project is a graphic demonstration of the bad faith exhibited by various environmental groups in dealing with mine permitting. Couer worked with the Greenies and secured what was thought to be an agreement that its “dry-stack” tailings disposal scheme. Of course, as soon as Couer began permitting and development, the Greenies just used another guise to sue to stop the project. The umbrella group that is funded by a regular who’s who of greenie groups is called the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, SEACC. Vehicles with stickers in their window showing a little boy urinating on the letters SEACC are fairly common even in this lefty town.
What went to the USSC was the question of whether the rock taken out of the mine and from which ore is extracted is “fill” to be regulated by the Corps of Engineers or a pollutant to be regulated by the EPA. The court concluded that since is was the same stuff that came out of the ground that was being put back in and onto the ground, it was fill rather than pollution so, reversing the 9th Soviet, a 6-3 Court re-instated the Corps’ permit.
For those of you who don’t live in mining areas, this is how wierd it gets: the very stuff taken out of the ground when put back in is held to be a pollutant by the EPA. Interestingly, Couer played the politics of the Democrat/Greenie world pretty hardball; Alaska Natives are a pretty solidly Democrat constituency. Couer worked with the Native Corps to mount most of their recruitment in the Native villages, most of which suffer chronically high unemployment. Consequently, the Ds, usually opposed to anything like a mine in order to satisfy their greenie friends had to choose who they would alienate – good move. Now we can celebrate for a few days until the envirowhackos think up a new cause of action or get some Democrat in DC to outlaw the mine without regard to the USSC.