Alaskans have a debt to pay and it is past due today. The public debate about Pebble Mine rages on, extreme on both sides heated and sometimes wicked, but few who love Alaska could disagree the debate has been of benefit to us all. From the middle of this we all emerge educated, more aware and most importantly carry a calm sense of assurance that people care about what happens to our state.
Most days I read or hear comments from Northern Dynasty employees or other financial beneficiaries a personal attack on one man, Bob Gillam. It’s a dirty little battle tactic being used by Northern Dynasty to put this on one person and make him out to be a villain. I am engaged in this debate and informed enough to know that, yes, Bob Gillam is playing a role. As a Native Alaskan he has stepped up to the plate and delivered energy, drive, organization and in many ways been the enabler of balance.
As a resident of Pedro Bay, an impacted community, armed with the knowledge and experience of public service and years of studying the tactics and record of the mining industry, I did knock on Bob Gillam’s door and ask for his help. Bob had little to gain from getting involved, he is an Alaskan who has done well for himself and can well afford a comfortable life, far from controversy.
Fortunately for all Alaskans, he did have personal knowledge of the Bristol Bay region; fortunately for all Alaskans, he does have a summer home in Lake Clark. I and others did play this card with Bob, but even then getting him involved was not an easy task and has proven many times over to be of huge personal cost, far in excess of any thanks or personal gain.
Bob Gillam has given concerned local folks a voice; without his involvement and resources, we would be buried under hundreds of pages of Northern Dynasty permit applications, dependant on state and local borough governments for understanding, protection and balance. Governments such as the Lake and Peninsula Borough, whose actions speak strongly of a government captured by the money of Northern Dynasty.
Agree or disagree with the way Bob Gillam wages war against the Pebble Mine, but agree and give thanks to him for being a good neighbor, willing to lend a hand, willing to engage us all in debate over the pros and cons of the mine.
Were it not for the involvement of Bob Gillam, Northern Dynasty would likely have their water permits today and none of us would know what we sacrificed to the profits of Northern Dynasty shareholders until 50 years had gone by.
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