People need to sign initiative to keep streams free of toxins

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We, as Alaskans, are so privileged to live in a place so rich in natural beauty. We enjoy harvesting salmon, halibut and game without worrying about toxin levels in the meat. We hike, hunt, fish, snowmachine and fly in and over vast wilderness, and this enriches our spirit.

Every year thousands of tourists make "once in a lifetime" trips to our great state to wonder that a place like this still exists, and this enriches us financially.

Now, several foreign mining companies want to build the Pebble Mine and are spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to convince us they can do so without harming our land, our waters and our fisheries a tall order, given that mines are known to release toxins such as cyanide, heavy metals and acid drainage into the environment. They describe it as a financial windfall for Alaska, and yet mining returns less than 2 percent of the resource value to the state, while they stand to make billions.

We would like to take them up on their word. We are gaining signatures to try and place the Clean Water Initiative on the ballot in 2008. The Initiative does not prevent a mine from being developed. It simply states that, as Anglo-American has promised, they cannot release toxic pollutants into our water and cannot store tailings and other mine waste that could release sulfuric acid and other acids or pollutants into water used by humans or salmon.

Oddly enough, despite their promises, those supporting this mine are fighting the effort to allow Alaskans to vote on this issue, in fact, suing to prevent it from being certified. If they truly believed their promises that the mine could be developed without harming our water and our fisheries, why would they oppose this initiative? Only one reason: They know they can't keep their promises.

Regardless of whether you support turning our wilderness into a vast open pit mine, please stand up for clean water and salmon we and our children can eat without worry of toxins.

Stored mine tailings in Montana have poisoned streams and created massive Superfund sites. Let's learn from their mistakes. Please sign the petition to allow Alaskans to vote on the Clean Water Initiative.

Mathew Cannava


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