State Seeks to Intervene in Kensington Mine Lawsuit
September 28, 2005
(Anchorage) – Attorney General David Márquez announced today that the state will seek to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by conservation and environmental groups challenging the approval of a discharge permit for the Kensington gold mine project.
"At the request of the Governor, the Department of Law reviewed the litigation and determined that the state has significant economic and regulatory interests in the Kensington Gold Project to support our effort to intervene in the lawsuit," said Márquez. "We also feel that it remains in the best interests of all parties involved to have this litigation be resolved in a thorough and expedient manner."
The Kensington Gold project, located near Juneau, Alaska, represents the largest mining project in Southeast Alaska in years. The project is estimated to recover one million ounces of gold over ten years and generate nearly $2 million in mining licensing taxes and an additional $3.5 million in corporate income taxes.
"Based on studies and work to date, it is clear that this project will create good-paying jobs and strengthen the economy of Southeast Alaska," said Murkowski. "We don't have to make the choice between family-wage jobs or a clean environment. We can diversify the economy through responsible mining, while maintaining the health of the great Alaskan outdoors that we all love."
In mid September, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in federal district court against the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service arguing that the Corps' mine tailings discharge permit violates the Clean Water Act and that the Forest Service's EIS was also unlawful under the Act.
Last May, the project was given the go ahead after state agencies issued 12 separate permits. In June, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. sec. 1344, allowing mine tailings to be transferred as permissible "fill" into nearby Lower Slake Lake. These actions followed the release of a final supplemental environmental impact statement prepared by the U.S. Forest Service showing that the proposed project could go forward with minimal environmental impacts.
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