Posted by: Tony Carson | 1 September, 2007

The constant raping of Alaska

Alaska is used to being pillaged.

First it was the Russians sailing over for the seals. Then it was the miners scrabbling for the thing called gold. Then the oil companies came with their sea platforms, their ships and their pipelines. And now something might be coming over horizon that will take pillaging to a truly Alaska-size level: a few Canadians.

If Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. of Vancouver has its way 12 billion tons of earth will be excavated on 3,300 square miles of federal lands to extract 82 million ounces of gold, 67 billion pounds of copper and 4 billion pounds of molybdenum worth an estimated $300 billion.

But if the scale of profits is dizzying, take a closer look at the potential for wreckage to get at those profits.

This LA Times article entitled Alaskan economy faces a fork in the river paints a pretty sorry picture. Never mind the impact on Alaska’s pristine rivers and the vast Bristol Bay salmon fishery, and never mind the impact on Alaska’s famed wildlife, this project would entail the construction of five earthen dams, two of which would be bigger than China’s Three Gorges Dam.

Think of the destruction! And you’re worried about ANWAR?

Ten square miles of impoundments would fill two valleys, to store in perpetuity more than 2.5 billion tons of waste rock and toxic residue. And to transport equipment and ore, a new 104-mile road would cut through undeveloped forest and wetlands, skirting Alaska’s largest body of fresh water.

And this might just be the first stage of development.

Yes, this is still in the planning phase, and yes, there are still environmental hurdles to cross, but we are talking Alaska here which has always been a place of exploitation first.

The Simpson Movie has it about right:

“As Homer crosses the state lines, he’s greeted by a customs agent who says, ‘Welcome to Alaska,’ then hands Homer $1,000 cash, saying every Alaskan gets a stack of bills so oil companies can exploit the environment.”

Pretty soon they’ll be giving out an extra grand for the mining companies. You can bet on it. It’s Alaska.

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