Even Small Victories Are Important
Americans appear to be growing increasingly testy, especially when it comes to big corporations overstepping all decent boundaries. Alaska, not exactly a hot bed of liberalism, had an interesting little election on the issue of whether an international consortium could build a huge copper and gold mine in an environmentally sensitive region. The locals said "NO!", according to the AP.
Voters of a small southwest Alaska borough late Monday narrowly passed a measure blocking a proposed gold and copper mine that critics say would have threatened one of the world's premier wild salmon fisheries in a local election that gained national attention, pitting environmentalists against business interests in a bitter feud.
The vote bans large-scale resource extraction, including mining, that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat. The measure was aimed squarely at Pebble Mine, a massive gold and copper prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay. ...
Critics say the potential footprint of the project could cover 15 square miles, with an open pit and network of roads and power lines. But project officials counter that neither a pre-feasibility study nor a formal mine plan have been completed.
The area involved includes one of the largest sockeye salmon fisheries, a major source of income for those in the region. The locals, including the Native Americans who depend on that fishery for sustenance fishing, rightfully are worried that the pit would degrade the fishery and the water and air around them. The mining interests are touting an increase of 1,000 "permanent" jobs, but that surely would not offset the loss of jobs and livelihood should the fishery collapse under the load of the mining waste.
Unfortunately, this won't be the end of the issue. The mining companies are filing suit claiming that the vote was an unlawful usurpation of the powers of the local planning commission. The state's Attorney General has declared that the ordinance is unenforceable and will probably come out in favor of the mining companies. The locals may lose on the issue, but at least they did something about it.
I take as much comfort in that vote as I do the Occupy Wall Street movement. It shows that there is a limit to what the 99% of will take lying down.
Labels: Economic Justice