Story last updated at 7:53 PM on Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Saying ‘no’ to mine should be people’s choice




I can feel my arm being twisted. If we are to take seriously Rep. Paul Seaton’s information from the Alaska Division of Legal and Research Services, by whose calculations Northern Dynasty would be awarded with the net potential profit of the entire mining operation should the company be refused access to the minerals (from state land), then I would have to cry foul.

Where does state government end and industry begin?

In that case, Northern Dynasty has seemingly figured out a foolproof way to make their profit whether or not they mine north of Iliamna Lake, and how could the state possibly recoup? According to Rep. Seaton, state revenue from mining interests amounts to only 0.7 percent of the value of the resource, as opposed to 20 percent of total production value in the oil industry. Even 20 percent is arguably low.

Just imagine Fred Meyer not building a store in downtown Homer. The city of Homer comes up with regulatory or legislative action which Fred Meyer deems to be excessive, for instance that the natural vegetation be left on the lot instead of replacing it with plantings, and Fred Meyer requires the city to pay just compensation and is awarded the net profit that the store is capable of earning during the total potential life of the business, making it impossible for the city to provide any further sewer and water projects, harbor expansions, road construction or maintenance, or fire or police protection for the forseeable future.

Is that the kind of power we want corporate entities to have over us?

Or imagine Exxon, who has sat on some of its oil and gas leases on the North Slope these last 30 years, reacting to state pressure to drill now or get off the pot, forcing a judgment on the state to the effect that to buy back the leases the state would have to pay back all the potential net profit that the field was capable of producing in its entire working life.

If the state deemed Northern Dynasty’s plan incompatible with environmental guidelines or any other reasonable controls, the state should return the Pebble lease money so as to be able to offer the project to another entity which could develop the resource in a manner more compatible with the desires of the state (which theoretically comprises you and me, after all); maybe even the development money spent so far, if and only if it is in the state’s best interest. This is only a prospect, after all, and any company taking such a gamble should should do so at their own expense.

I have come to expect big business interests to call the shots wherever they can, with the unfailing support of the stock and bond buying public. I guess I’m not really surprised, given the unabashed conduct of some of our politicians in regards to the conflict of interest cases recently in the news, that our government would shamelessly donate our resources in this manner. It does seem like a new low, however.

Where is the oversight? Where are the protections? Who’s in control? Sounds like Corporacracy.

Dave Seaman has lived in the Homer area for 30 years.

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