It was over 20 years ago that a diverse group of 30 community members came together to develop Juneau's Mining Ordinance to regulate mining in Juneau's urban core. What they created fosters a safe, healthy, and environmentally sound mining industry while protecting the health and safety of the public and limiting the negative social environmental impacts of a mine.
The ordinance was created because mining, especially in an urban area like Juneau, is a risky industry requiring additional assurances for the health and safety of the community. By giving power to those who live and work in Juneau the ordinance assures that we have a voice in protecting our city and way of life.
In April 2017 Assemblywoman Beth Weldon brought forward a proposal to the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Committee of the Whole to gut the ordinance. The proposal, created by a few individuals with close ties to the mining industry would cut out many of the environmental protections and the majority of the opportunities for public participation in direct opposition to the ordinance's original intent of "minimizing the environmental and surface effects of mining projects..."
In June the Committee of the Whole, at the recommendation from mayor Koelsch and against that of City Manager Rorie Watt, decided to quickly move forward with the proposal, creating a subcommittee to investigate the proposal further. This subcommittee made up of three assembly members, two members of the Planning Commission and two members of the public has been tasked with investigating the proposal and making a final recommendation to the assembly.
At risk is a place that we all love, Juneau. It is our way of life, the clean water that flows from our glaciers and through our rivers, the astounding mountain vistas, long rainforest clad trails, and vibrant culture. Should the changes go through we would lose our power and voice in protecting this unique place, our home.
The proposed changes are unacceptable. As a matter of sound public policy, the CBJ has the responsibility to consider and make decisions that reflect important diverse community values.