If everyone played by the rules, we would not need ordinances. Mining is an extremely risky venture and the mining industry, including these very proponents, has a poor track record. The mining proponents have been dishonest throughout this entire process so why should we trust that they have our best interests at heart?
Claim: They stated that the CBJ has a redundant water system at Salmon Creek capable of supplying drinking water if Gold Creek is contaminated.
Truth: According to City Manager Rorie Watt, not only does the Salmon Creek Treatment plant lack capacity to serve all of CBJ, the distribution system from Salmon Creek does not serve downtown at all. This could threaten water security for downtown Juneau if something were to happen along Gold Creek, the site of the AJ Mine.
Claim: Proponents complained that the way the ordinance was written CBJ could deny a conditional use permit even if the mining company met all the prescribed conditions.
Truth: According to City Manager Rorie Watt this is not true, the CBJ would not be able to deny a permit if all conditions were met.
Claim: Proponents at the First Things First Alaska Foundation have claimed that a conditional use permit would “be an additional cost to the CBJ to hire or contract for the experts required to duplicate the state and federal permitting systems.”
Truth: The ordinance states that CBJ can bill the applicant for hiring any experts needed. See, CBJ 49.65.135(g) at pp. 14-15 of the revised draft.
Claim: Proponents claimed that the CJB Mining ordinance is duplicative of state and federal permitting systems.
Truth: The ordinance gives CBJ the discretion to mitigate impacts to local values such as housing, daycare, property taxes, quality of life, recreation capacity, local hire, school enrollment, and CBJ revenues and expenditures. These are not covered under state or federal analysis. The vast majority of the AJ Mine and Treadwell properties are private land not subject to state or federal review.
Claim: State and federal permitting process would guarantee that there would be no impacts from a mine as the permitting process is so complex.
Truth: Most operating metal mines exceed water quality standards (Kuipers et.al, 2006) because of chronic underestimates of problems and unreliable mitigation strategies. In addition, regulations rarely account for the cumulative impacts of pollution from multiple sources (American Fisheries Society position paper on mining and fossil fuel extraction). Both state and federal environmental programs have been cut to the bone. The Department of Environmental Conservation with oversees the protection of our waters has lost more than 30% of its budget last year alone. With the current administration rolling back environmental regulations it is not safe to rely on the federal government to step in.
Claim: The Social Economic analysis is onerous and no other developer has such a requirement.
Truth: This statement is disingenuous. Many developers are subject to different requirements due to the risks specific to a project’s development. Fuel facilities are permitted differently that elementary schools, elementary schools are permitted differently than residential housing.
The process is not onerous. The Planning Commission’s analysis of the Kensington Mine was conducted in 11 meetings from October 3, 1991, to January 2, 1992 (weeks that included 3 holidays). The Social Economic analysis is designed to assess whether culture or social systems (the social fabric) will be affected and what impacts that may have. What might the impacts be of introducing social change or new forms of wealth into social groups? What kinds of job opportunities do local people want?
Without a Social Economic analysis, the Planning Commission lacks a basis for mitigating impacts to the impacted systems which is designed to alleviate citizens from shouldering the external costs of development and provide a stimulus for the extra services necessary to meet the demand. Should young families have to compete with scarce and increasingly expensive daycare? Should people on fixed incomes have to abandon family homes because of increased property taxes?
If a mining company’s state or federal permit is suspended or revoked, then CBJ may suspend or revoke a company’s CBJ permit after issuing a compliance order.
Even if the CBJ enforced the same laws, rules, and regulations as the state and federal agencies, there would probably be significant differences in the regulation and operation of the mine because of the wide range of agency discretion involved.
Finally, some of the very proponents that have proposed these changes were involved in the purposeful dumping of hazardous waste into our drinking watershed in the dead of night to avoid detection. It is this very reason that CBJ and the citizens need a wide range of powers to oversee mining operations within the CBJ.