Saturday, December 07, 2013

Matt Moore Isn't Running Against Don Young In Alaska Just For The Sake Of Running


Interesting House race shaping up in Alaska this cycle

Matt Moore is a Democrat running for Alaska's gigantic at-large House seat, presently occupied by ethically-challenged Don Young. I spoke with him on the phone earlier this week and I;m happy to report that he has a refreshingly progressive world view. Matt has a BS degree in Geology and worked in the oil and gas business for several years prior to moving to Alaska. He's a small business owner and has been managing medical practices for the past 23 years. He and his wife live in Anchorage and have 2 children. We got into a discussion of the Pebble West Mine and I asked him to do a guest post about it because I thought it would highlight a very tangible difference why he's running for Congress and why Don Young still refuses to retire (after 40 scandal-wracked years!)

Saving The Bristol Bay Watershed From Toxic Waste
by Matt Moore, candidate for Congress, Alaska

Alaska is known for its natural beauty, unspoiled landscapes and resources. Alaska's Bristol Bay area is home to the largest run of wild salmon in the world and the people who live in this area depend on fishing for their income and for food. When you hear the name “Pebble,” you will think of a small rounded rock. You may also suppose the proposed Pebble Mine project is small and innocuous but that is simply not the case.  The Bristol Bay watershed is the location of a proposed open pit mine where outside interests hope to develop copper, gold and molybdenum. The Pebble West Mine will be two miles wide and thousands of feet deep. Multiple earthen dams will be built to retain billions of tons of waste rock and chemicals. This toxic waste will forever remain in one of two proposed artificial lakes with no guarantee that leakage will never occur. At least one of these retaining dams will be over 700 feet high and over 4 miles long. The Pebble East Mine would be significantly deeper and would likely be mined by underground methods.

Supporters say that the mine will have a working life of up to 60 years and it will create good paying, full-time jobs in the area while putting tax money into state coffers. They would also claim that this new source of minerals would therefore reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of minerals. Opponents do not disagree with those claims, but say that the risk to the environment, the watershed and the people living in the area far outweigh the potential benefits. Most Alaskans are opposed to the mine and are not willing to risk the commercial salmon fisheries, the subsistence fishing and sports fishing opportunities in the Bristol Bay watershed. People living in the Bristol Bay area, federally recognized tribes, and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation are also opposed to the Pebble Mine.

In July 2010, Alaska’s lone Congressman, Don Young, introduced a new bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to veto the Army Corps of Engineers permit for discharge of fill materials, dredge materials, waste rock, etc. under the authority of the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c). Young said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can do the job without the EPA's involvement. He further stated that projects have been repeatedly shut down and delayed by the EPA.

One should ask if the EPA executes its duties fairly and even-handedly. The answer is yes. The EPA reviews approximately 60,000 permit applications a year and has been engaged in this process since 1972. The odds are overwhelmingly against the EPA abusing their final 404c veto power. In fact, over the last 39 years, the EPA has used their 404(c) final veto power only 13 times. That being said, why would Don Young go to the trouble of stripping the EPA of its 404(c) powers? The only logical reason would be that Young wanted to completely clear the way for the proposed Pebble Mine and guarantee their plan would not be stopped. Imagine the value to investors of a guaranteed green light on this multi-billion dollar project.

Don Young may claim he is facilitating mining development in the Bristol Bay watershed for the benefit of all Alaskans. Or he could claim that he is fighting the good fight against the federal government because they are too involved in business transactions, and they do not understand how we do things in Alaska. But these are red herrings. Over the last 4 election cycles, Young has received over $200,000 in campaign contributions from energy and natural resources PACs including mining PACs. It is clear that these significant campaign contributions are more important to Don Young than representing the best interests and wishes of his constituents.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home