Proposed Alaska Gold Mine Blocked Out of Concern for Salmon Fishery, Native Rights – Esquire.com

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(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post)

Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin’ gets done.

We begin in Alaska, where the score now stands Salmon 1, Gold 0. From the Washington Post:

Pebble Limited Partnership, the U.S. subsidiary of Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals, argued that its proposed mine had the potential to be one of the most important metal-producing projects of the 21st century. But a coalition of Alaska Natives, environmentalists, fishing operators and recreational anglers — including some prominent Republicans such as Donald Trump Jr. — countered that it was too risky to start a hard-rock mine at the headwaters of a fishery teeming with sockeye, coho, chum and pink salmon that has provided generations with a vital food source and lured fishing enthusiasts from around the globe.

For decades now, there has been talk about building a strong alliance between the hunting and fishing community and the environmental community. Here, apparently, that alliance actually marshaled considerable power to blunt, for now, a truly terrible idea.

In the filing, the EPA said it plans to invoke its powers under the Clean Water Act to ensure the region’s waters are not filled in or contaminated by material from the proposed open-pit mining site. “It is essential to the livelihood and the community well-being of many Alaskan tribes. And it is also one of the most productive salmon fisheries in North America,” Radhika Fox, head of the EPA’s Office of Water, said in an interview Thursday.

Gold mining—in fact, mining in general—has a horrific record of demolishing rivers, lakes, and waterways of all sorts. (One of its more charming byproducts is arsenic.) From the AP (via the Denver Post):

The records show that at average flows, more than 50 million gallons (189 million liters) of contaminated wastewater streams daily from the sites. In many cases, it runs untreated into nearby groundwater, rivers and ponds — a roughly 20-million-gallon (76-million-liter) daily dose of pollution that could fill more than 2,000 tanker trucks. The remainder of the waste is captured or treated in a costly effort that will need to carry on indefinitely, for perhaps thousands of years, often with little hope for reimbursement.

And the mining industry’s politics are as bad as its environmental depredations are. Every win over them is worth celebrating. Perhaps with a bagel and lox.

We move along to Utah, and a less admirable specimen of the sporting community. From the Cedar City News (h/t Wonkette):

One of the residents, Sean, who requested to be identified by his first name only, said that shortly before 8 p.m., he was at home and heard a gunshot. He said he went outside and saw a man in a fenced yard directly across the road who appeared to be pulling a deer toward a GMC Yukon SUV parked nearby. Sean said he confronted the man, who identified himself as Travis Seegmiller. Seegmiller is a Republican member of the Utah House of Representatives, representing District 62, which covers a large area of St. George and Washington City…When confronted about going onto private property to retrieve the carcass, Sean said Seegmiller told him he obtained permission from the property owner beforehand.

That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Sort of.

The property where the doe died is owned by Dr. Kelly Reber, who told St. George News he was behind his home when he and his wife heard the gunshot. Both went down a small hill to an area near their garage to investigate the sound, he said, but they were unable to see anything, as their view was obscured by trees. Reber said the sound seemed very close and came from the east side of his property…Reber said he had never met the man before and told him that he could not shoot any deer in his yard. Seegmiller then allegedly told Reber he had actually shot the deer in the yard across the street, but the animal ran into Reber’s yard and he was just retrieving it from the property. Reber said the area where the deer was shot is clearly marked with several “no hunting” signs.

Of course, this is about a guy killing a deer. South Dakota has been going through the real thing. From CNN:

Last September, on the night of the crash, [state Attorney General Jason] Ravnsborg told a 911 dispatcher, “I hit something” that was in the middle of the road. He initially told police he had hit a deer but discovered Joseph Boever’s body the following morning after returning to the scene of the crash. Investigators said they found Boever’s broken glasses in Ravnsborg’s car and that the victim’s face had come through the attorney general’s windshield.

As Thoreau once said, some circumstantial evidence can be very compelling, like when you allegedly find a guy’s face through your windshield. Unless, of course, you happen to be an attorney general.

Ravnsborg was ordered to pay a $500 fine for each of two misdemeanors — one count of operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device and one count of lane driving. A third misdemeanor was dismissed.

And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Chuck Wagon Navigator Friedman of the Plains brings us the tale of another of his state’s triumphs over expertise. From the Tulsa World:

The move appears to be the latest in Stitt’s unbending determination to transition the state’s Medicaid system, which is administered by the OHCA, to a privately managed model despite the opposition of much of the Legislature and medical community. “I was called on Saturday … by a member of the governor’s staff and told I’d been removed. No reason was given,” said Dr. Jean Hausheer, a Lawton ophthalmologist with the Dean McGee Eye Institute. Hausheer and Dr. Laura Shamblin, an Oklahoma City pediatrician, were immediately replaced by Susan Dell’Osso, a communications and marketing specialist who previously worked about two years in the health care sector, and Gino DeMarco, a retired oil and gas executive who served as Stitt’s “PPE czar” in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a reason why I did not go to see a “communications and marketing specialist” a couple of years ago when my gallbladder decided to poison me. I would be glad to explain this to Governor Stitt.

This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.

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