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Friday, January 28, 2022

State of Alaska Sues Lake & Peninsula Borough Over No Pebble Vote

Those darned uppity citizens. The Pebble Partnership already sued them once to keep an initiative off the local ballot. It didn’t work.  The Save Our Salmon initiative on the Lake & Peninsula Borough ballot was recently passed by local residents near Bristol Bay. It will give the Borough and its residents the right to decide if they want the continent’s largest open pit mine in their back yard, which happens to also be on the shores of the largest wild salmon fishery on the continent. Not surprisingly, and even after the success of the mining proponents to invalidate scores of yes votes, it still passed.

Go figure that people feel more confident in a renewable resource that has lasted for thousands of years, and provided jobs, food, and culture to the region, than in a giant toxic mine that promises only 50 years of an unspecified number of jobs, which will come at the expense of the aforementioned renewable resource. It’s not rocket science.

But now, after the locals have spoken, another lawsuit makes its appearance. This time, the State is suing the Borough to invalidate the initiative after it passed.  Isn’t that nice that Sean Parnell would offer to pick up the tab?  We wouldn’t want those poor foreign mining companies to have to open the checkbook, would we? That wouldn’t be very chivalrous.

But wait… it’s not all of Alaska’s citizens who’ll end up with the bill. According to the complaint, the State of Alaska says it will attempt to recover its costs and attorneys’ fees from the Lake & Pen Borought.  It’s like a twofer – the State saves the multinational mining conglomerates a little of the green stuff, and sticks the people of the Borough with the tab. That’ll teach ’em to speak out.

“This case is not about state support for or against a Pebble Mine project,” Attorney General John Burns said in a statement. “It is about upholding the state’s constitutional authority and responsibility to evaluate whether, on balance, development of Alaska’s resources is beneficial to all Alaskans.

They’ve got to think long and hard about whether the destruction of a world-class fishery would be better for Alaskans than allowing foreign corporations to take what they want, and leave their poisonous mess behind. They’ll have to build a series of earthen dams, some 700 feet tall in order to contain the toxic residue. And those earthen dams will have to hold firm in an active seismic region, for millenia. No problem. What could go wrong?

The Attorney General also said that a “small majority of voters” in a local community cannot usurp “the more comprehensive state authority and eliminate the entire state permitting process.”

So, why, if the State is so neutral on this issue, Mr. Burns, do you qualify the majority by which the vote passed? As I recall, George Bush won only by a “small majority of voters.” He was still President. Mark Begich also won his senate seat by a “small majority of voters.”  I believe his office is in D.C. right now. So, somehow in this case, the margin of victory matters?  Of course it doesn’t. But saying that does indeed out you, and what side you’re on. It was quite the strategy – question every vote, invalidate as many as you can, and then claim a “small margin of victory” and have the AG parrot that. Well played.

And by the way, it isn’t called “just a small majority of voters.” It’s called “democracy.” Maybe you’ve heard of it.

It may very well be that the state wins this one. The Constitution states that the legislature is in charge of deciding these things when it comes to resource development. But what does that mean? Shall we look forward to a new breed of Corrupt Bastards Club where representatives who are supposed to be standing up for the people and the best interest of the state sell out for a few pieces of silver and let this mine go through?  Oil… gold… what’s the difference when the money’s all green?

There are many more battles to be waged. But one thing remains – The Pebble Partnership cannot guarantee that there will not be an accident that will harm the fishery that already provides jobs, and a way of life for the people of the region. That’s really all most of us need to know.



39 Responses to “State of Alaska Sues Lake & Peninsula Borough Over No Pebble Vote”
  1. what perxactly qualifies SP2.0 and Mayor Sullivan as experts in fish and wildlife fields? They only expertise I can think of would be the easy way they destroy wildlife with mining and oil exploration. Out of sight-out of mind. They may not be caught red-handed actually murdering fish and stuff,but once the habitat is destroyed,the wildlife will be too. This is too important to allow cheap,tin-horn imitation Palins decide that there is only one way to do business,and that is under the table.

    • nomorebuffs says:

      “This is too important to allow cheap,tin-horn imitation Palins decide that there is only one way to do business,and that is under the table.”
      You are thinking of the Murkowskis.

      • Man_from_Unk says:

        “….under the table.” or in bed, or behind closed doors, or back door access. This practice is exclusive and we need to put a stop to it!

        • Citizens United pretty much took a lot of suspense out of important elections for Americans. Why bother to cast a ballot when,as a wealthy person or korporation,you can just buy the election?

  2. Alaska Pi says:

    If this unresolved complaint against the state is correct

    DNR has failed in its directive to properly manage state lands for the benefit of all Alaskans

    by creating a 20 year Bristol Bay Area Plan from a culture and mindset which is freighted too heavily towards mineral extraction with inadequate attention to other land uses.
    This current state lawsuit seems like a strike to assert state authority without having to look at the details of what the state has been up to in DNR for the last 10 years.
    And dear Legs- what is happening on the study-the-permitting-process front that was left hanging at the end of session? And the $$s set aside to do that?

    • UgaVic says:

      Good question on the study. The fishermen of BB made great efforts to go our Board of Fish to ask for something that would help define and protect the fishery. They in turn agreed and sent a directive, think that is the right term, to the legs…nothing and we are looking at almost 2 years later!

  3. GoI3ig says:

    I too would like to add one tidbit to the original post. It is true that the pro pebble group touts the small margin of victory for the initiative. However, George bush did not win with small majority of voters. He won with a small majority of the electoral college.

    By the official count of the US Government, Bush actually lost by about 500,000 votes. It’s quite a system we have in this country where the 2nd place candidate can win.

    • AKMuckraker says:

      Point taken. But it was clearly a “mandate” whatever it was. 😉

    • no offense.but,dumbass dubya won by a 5-4 vote in the right wing activist Supreme Court,the ones that apparently can’t see or recognize conflicts of interest.

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      Well, no actually. What we have witnessed during the two election cycles preceeding 2008 is that the republicans will do anything, absolutely anything, to win. The present supreme court is a tool of the oligarchy. Clarence Thomas is a perfect example. He should have been impeached by now. He is a liar, he has comitted multiple felonies by filing false income statements, and his ties to vested interests are blatant and unabashed, yet he skates.

      There is a clear and unambiguous double standard in the US, the rich are above the law for the most part. Sure now and then they might throw a Ken Lay or Maddow into the pit, but they are nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who literally own most of the wealth and can be sure they will never be prosecuted for their crimes because they own the officials who are responsible for that upholding of law.

      Make no mistake, they are utterly ruthless. Power is intoxicating. Those that hold it now will never reliquish so much as an iota of it, until we the 99% put our collective foot on their neck.

      • Man_from_Unk says:

        “….people who literally own most of the wealth and can be sure they will never be prosecuted for their crimes because they own the officials…”, this is a very, very stinky mess in regards to the fisheries industry in Alaska. They can the ‘little guy’ like Lisa Murkowski’s aide earlier this fall. The ‘big guy’ covers his tracks with millions and millions of dollars made from the resources belonging to the people of the country.

  4. Maria says:

    I smell a serious court battle over this one and wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up at the Supreme Court.

  5. tallimat says:

    Good grief.
    Capt. Zero, destroyin jobs every which way he spins.
    No wonder Dung Young calls him Capt. Zero.
    Alaskans voted for a guy who has zero tolerance for Alaskans.

    I didn’t vote for the cretin from the bowels of big oil.
    Zero is part of that God, Guns and Oil militia that run around Alaska acting like they care about the place. I swear they been hypnotized.

  6. Mo says:

    It’s really pretty pathetic, isn’t it, how many of Alaska’s politicians are whores to extractive industries, only cheaper – Rick Perry Lite.

    And how they get their panties in a twist when it’s suggested that the State not allow these industries carte blanche, bleating about how Business is the sole source of jobs.

    Andrew Halcro does bucket boy duty for this group:

    “Every dollar lost in oil taxes means less money that the state has to spend, Weilechowski said. Their arguments smacked of Keynesian Economics 101, which is certainly not surprising from these two lawmakers.”

    Contrast that quote with Paul Krugman’s column today regarding Weaponized Keynesianism

    “What kind of cynicism am I talking about? First, there’s the general fear on the part of conservatives that if you admit that the government can do anything useful other than fighting wars, you open the door to do-gooding in general; that explains why conservatives have always seen Keynesianism as a dangerous leftist doctrine even though that makes no sense in terms of the theory’s actual content. On top of that there’s the … point that admitting that the government can create jobs undermines demands that policies be framed to cater to all-important business confidence.”

    Note especially that last sentence. The notion that spending by business enterprises is better than spending by government is ludicrous, given the debacles of the past thirty years. Enron? Long Term Capital Management? Countrywide? Lehman Brothers? AIG? BP? Savings & loan bailout? General Motors? etc. Tell me again how Business is so much more efficient and effective than government agencies? Unless you mean efficient at funneling money from the 99% into the pockets of the 1%.

    Alaska: Buy Yer Cheap Politicos Here

  7. AKPetMom says:

    Just another lesson in why people need to get to the polls in EVERY election. I wonder how many in the Lake and Pen Borough bothered to vote in the 2010 Gubernatorial?

    • UgaVic says:

      I can tell you the voter roll is not updated at all and the federal laws make it almost impossible to have it happen. We counted a good 25% of the people listed on our small area’s list to have not lived or no longer live in the area. According to what the state told me we can only challenge if we know, or highly suspect, someone is voting in another place. Supposedly this is due to federal issues, not state.
      So to have a good idea of the percent on turn out would be difficult.
      Let’s just hope this lawsuit doesn’t end up sending what has been a fairly stable and healthy borough treasury into a tail spin. That is also just one of the issue they residents are worried about now. Also the planning committee, those who make the decison on the permit issue, is made up of appointement people, not elected. This is another issue they are worried about, giving too much authority to a group that can’t be held responsible:-((

      • Man_from_Unk says:

        Thanks Uga for your words – “giving too much authority to a group that can’t be held responsible:-((” That whole issue of “too much authority” seems to be a plague with some lineworkers in state agencies especially out here in Bush Alaska where most voters are stuggling to survive so most are not paying attention to the local politics. I’ll double your :-(( !

  8. One small correction to a fine article, AKM: the State of Alaska proposes to recover its costs and attorneys’ fees from the Borough, according to the complaint. So it isn’t just the State stepping into save the poor, multi-national mining company monies. It’s the State trying to punish the uppity citizens of the Borough, as well.


  9. benlomond2 says:

    I’m guessing this will get thrown out, as the initiative got PUT ON THE BALLOT by the judicial system. If Parnell and Co. succeeds, then the State could use this as a basis to trump ANYTHING your local community votes on …Do Alaskans WANT Big Goverment involved in their daily lives.. isn’t Minnesota running into this already, where the State can discard a local city board and run the town with a State Appointed commisioner ?? ( I THINK I got the correct state on this..)

    • GoI3ig says:

      Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case. The judge who heard the case prior to the initiative going on the ballot, opted not to rule on the issue of the initiative’s constitutionality. He said he would allow the vote to go forth, and then the issue could be solved in court.

      This was kind of a strange stance, because it set them up for what they have now. The side who didn’t like the election gets to sue.

      • benlomond2 says:

        I stand corrected… Does this mean it will possibly end up in Alaska SC ? if so, how confident are Alaskans they will get a fair shake ?

        • If my suspicions are correct,Alaskans would get a much fairer shake and probably agree with the outcome more,if there was a gazillion magnitude earthquake centered in rwnj strongholds of Alaska. The people? who won’t trade one resource for another can and will proudly claim that money trumps all else and they will point to the poor economy that they themselves had a large hand in fostering,as the biggest excuse to slap the majority in the face. I suggest everyone in the whole world make a pilgrimage to Bristol Bay and hug a salmon while they are relatively toxin free and alive.

          • Man_from_Unk says:

            Occupy Bristol Bay! Not to “hug a salmon” but to demand that which is guaranteed by the state constitution – managing the natural resources for sustainability. The power for the people is in black and white!

          • Excellent point-howsomeever,rethuglicans can neither read nor comprehend. It is a genetic thingie with them.

    • Kat says:

      No, that’s Michigan you’re thinking of. No problemo, they both start with a M. 🙂 They’ve already taken over a town whose minority population was fighting against a huge takeover, destroying their environment to put in a huge golf course/ club for the wealthy. After their vote – the Republican Governor took over & sent his Republican buddies in to run the town. No more democracy there.

      Stand back & wait for the Parnell dictatorship to do the same if the nasty old citizens put up too much of a fight to keep them from selling the state piece by piece.

  10. Kath the Scrappy says:

    Well stated AKM! I just cannot comprehend the logic and mindset of some of these yahoos. Most of those so-call “jobs” would probably be imported from the lwr 48, so what does Alaska really stand to gain?

  11. Zyxomma says:

    This is just what we expected, isn’t it? NO to Pebble, now and forever.

    • Man_from_Unk says:

      “NO to Pebble, now and forever.” The salmon of Bristol Bay have been feeding the people of Nome for the past several years. People with money are buying frozen filets from Bristol Bay to fill their freezers because their little red run on the Pilgrim River, it’s drainage is at the village of Teller, has been grossly mismanaged to the point of perhaps ‘stock of concern’. The declining red salmon returns has caused a hardship for the poor people of Teller and Brevig Mission and they in turn have been neglected by their CDQ group, NSEDC.

  12. GoI3ig says:

    Why does this not surprise me. In the past, whenever an initiative has been passed by the voters that the GOP doesn’t like, they are quick to pass a law negating it. They have no shame.

    Now Cpt. Zero is spending public resources to help out his corporate buddies. I couldn’t keep a straight face reading the ADN this morning when his commissioner said it’s got nothing to do with being pro-pebble or anti pebble.