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September 24, 2021

Parnell and Pebble Try to Silence Alaskans

I will argue with people about voting. More vehemently if they don’t vote than if they vote for someone different than me. No, candidates aren’t all the same, and it’s a form of freeloading if you don’t vote. If democracy were a religion, voting would be the sacrament.

Alaskans have an amazing record of being forward-thinking on who could vote. In 1912, a Tlingit, Charlie Jones, voted in Wrangell. He was assisted by Tillie Paul Tamarre, and they were both arrested. A federal court granted Alaska Natives the right to vote in territorial elections and the charges were dropped. It would be two more years before Native Americans elsewhere were granted the same right.

Seven months after President Taft signed the law making Alaska a territory, the First Territorial Legislature met and the first thing they did was pass a bill to allow women to vote. The vote was unanimous at a time when only nine states had granted women voting rights. The Seattle Sun wrote, “Alaska is nothing if not progressive.” It took seven more years before the federal government would come to the same conclusion of that first legislative session in Alaska.

I guess when times were tougher in Alaska, people respected each other more. If you were stuck in a snowbank or fell out of your boat, you didn’t care what color or gender your rescuers were.

I heard an advertisement on the radio this week. It was former lawmaker Gail Phillips chiding Alaskans for not being civil in the Pebble Mine fight. A few years ago she told us it was “un-American” and “un-Alaskan” to not let companies who are neither Alaskan nor American go through a permitting process.

I pulled into a park and thought about what she’d said. I watched a man and his boy walk past my car with fishing poles. There has to be a nicer way; maybe she was right.

My phone rang. “Did you hear the governor has signed Alaska up to the Pebble Partnership side of their lawsuit against the Lake and Pen Borough?”

See, the “nice” game the Pebble folks have been playing includes denying Alaskans the right to vote in a ballot initiative signed by more of their borough residents than voted in their last election. In an unbelievable show of disconnect, Sean Parnell has filed, on our behalf, an amicus brief siding with the foreign-owned Pebble Partnership trying to stop Alaskans from voting in their own borough. It shouldn’t be surprising since Gov. Parnell, after attending a cruise ship conference in Florida, came home and overturned the will of Alaskans to tax cruise ship passengers less than the airlines charge to check a bag.

I guess he was really serious about no local knowledge being considered during development. With Coastal Zone Management gone, there are only a few options left for locals to be heard. But Gov. Parnell choosing to end 10,000 years of local knowledge shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Whether it’s exercising the right to vote or shilling for transnational corporations, Sean Parnell always sides with corporations over people. He is still pushing to give away, with absolutely no strings attached or incentives for new exploration or investment, $2 billion back to the Oil Producers. It’s as though he never stopped being Exxon’s attorney or Conoco Phillips’ lobbyist. Then there was the day of prayer and before that his surrender of sovereignty to the feds with the loss of the coastal zone program.

A few years ago I was so tired of ballot initiatives, I wanted to write one to make no more ballot initiatives. I was wrong. When it is done right it’s one of our clearest paths to good policy. The folks in the Bristol Bay area haven’t been heard by proponents of Pebble. Despite Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll’s repeated promises that they won’t develop the proposed Pebble Mine if it doesn’t have the support of local communities, they are trying to silence the will of borough residents.

Protecting the largest wild salmon stock in the world is taken pretty seriously out there. The statewide polling shows the majority of Alaskans oppose the mine for good reasons — over 10 billion tons of waste to be maintained far after the life of the mine.

Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole expressed confidence in having the support of the locals this week. Well, then you won’t have a problem getting them to vote the way you’d like. Right? The truth is, Heatwole’s children won’t be drinking water from the area, and neither will the grandchildren of his boss, John Shively.

So when it comes to “being nice” about the Pebble fight, I’m good with that. You go first. Let the people of Bristol Bay vote. Gov. Parnell has taken orders from corporate masters (both foreign and domestic) over his vow to represent the people of Alaska, specifically our brothers and sisters in Bristol Bay.

Cross-posted at ADN

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15 Responses to “Parnell and Pebble Try to Silence Alaskans”
  1. Timothy W. Lainak says:

    To Whom it may Concern,
    I have been trying to help in the effort to stop once and for all a huge open pit mine (largest in the world) called the Pebble Mine from being built in the largest last remaining (the other in Russia) sockeye salmon fishery left in the world. If built within the region which is on the ring of fire and prone to earthqluakes and also strong sustained winds, which could leach out contaminants from the copper tailings into the water, the salmon (sockeye or red, chinook or king, silver or coho, pink and chum) being the five types that come up from Bristol Bay in the Pacific Ocean could be ended forever. For once they lose their way (by instinct then by smell) it could be over. Also returning are the steelhead. If this fishery fails then the watershed ecosystem of the rivers north of Bristol Bay wold also be ended. The bears, eagles, wolves, coyotes and the food chain on down the line in and out of the water along the millions of miles of shorelines which depend on these arteries for their sustenance of fish returning to spawn would be ended. So in a sense you’re going to slowly starve or suffocate a whole way of life.

    Please look into this proposed
    project and see what you can do to stop it.

    Respectfully Yours,

    Timothy W. Lacinak
    tlacinak@wi.rr.com

    I have worked on the lyrics to a song or poem depending how you work/read it to express this impending disaster. The award winning environmental Cannes film festival winner (Red Gold) a must see, tells it like it is. I think it was produced in 2007. So I have given these lyrics (attached below) to all or any would be musicians here and in Alaska to make it into a powerful tool in this effort of awareness. I have been getting many requests and positve feedback. It needs a haunting kickass melody and repetitive Dylan, Lightfoot magic spin put to it.
    Go for it.

    Fools Gold

    Open pit mining is a risky thing
    digging up the land could pollute the streams
    copper in the water is an awful thing
    fool with mother nature and you’re in for a sting

    60 million salmon could lose their way
    to the place they were born it’s natures way
    60 million salmon smell their way
    back up the streams at the end of the day

    Pebble miners say we won’t pollute the bay
    repeat
    thousands of years no one know for sure
    the salmon have returned like the year before
    trading lots copper and a little bit of gold
    spells the end of the salmon and the days of old
    they’ll all lose their way from Bristol Bay
    a sad and nearsighted price to pay

    but is it really worth the gamble to mine
    for the copper and the gold when the real golds live
    They see only green like a BP scheme
    after the gulf oil spill they didn’t learn a thing
    they’re just fools for the gold like the days of old
    for swimmin’ up the streams is the motherload

    So when all is said and done and they dig that hole
    your kids wiil ask their Daddy’s why were you such fools
    for the real gold was always crystal clear
    swimmin up the rivers year after year

    So don’t be a fool cause the real golds red
    repeat
    when will we ever get it thourgh our heads
    that the copper and the gold makes us fools in the end

  2. Do you get the feeling that this mine is already a done deal,irrespective of what comes out of the Guv’s mouth? I think he is trying to dot the eyes and cross the ts and when its time to announce a decision it will be against the wishes of the populace. I would almost stake my life on it. Money talks-voters get dumped on.

  3. homesteader says:

    Amen, Shannyn!

  4. No To Pebble Mine says:

    Just say NO to destroying the environment.

    Check the facts!

  5. EatWildFish says:

    Also too: why is the state stalling on its decision for the unsuitable lands petition that would require buffer zones for salmon streams (similar to logging operations) if the Chuitna coal mine is permitted?? It will be the biggest coal mine in AK and will set a precedent by removing 11 miles of salmon stream in Cook Inlet.

    A decision was due in April, then extended 45 days into June – now it’s mid-August and still no one from DNR is talking. And good luck getting an answer from Parnell – if you can ever find him in his hidey hole.

    Anyone got input on this?

  6. rm says:

    Priceless:
    Do You Want Sarah Palin To Enter The Presidential Race? NOOOOO!” Or How To Manipulate A FOX

  7. Millie says:

    Why aren’t steps being taken to get Parnell out of office? What steps have to be taken to do so? Are ALL Alaskans aware of what he is doing? Are they paying attention? I’m very, very worried.

  8. ks sunflower says:

    Does Alaskan law allow recalls?

  9. CG says:

    There was a Pebble “Elders’ Panel” a few weeks ago. I looked for it on municipal event calendars for the Egan and Denaina convention centers. Couldn’t find it on any schedule, anywhere, as a public event. Couldn’t find it in any newsletter. Nothing on any of the Native Corporation and Anchorage-based tribal health operations, who generally do announcements about upcoming events.
    Nothing on Pebble/Northern Dynasty websites. Nothing on Bristol Bay organization websites. No reporting, by anyone, anywhere. Not blogs, Alaska Dispatch, Mudflats, ADN, First Alaskans Institute, nowhere. Nothing at all about it. Kind of sad and evidence of priority and agenda. For everybody.

    So here’s the deal. Pebble flew in, housed, and facilitated meetings of Bristol Bay Elders. PAID FOR EVERYTHING, THE WHOLE SHEBANG.
    Why? I don’t know. Obviously, they didn’t do that unless it serves some purpose for them. Most likely to document area Elders’ approval of the project. Film ads?
    Anyway, when you see the collateral material a few months from now, you’ll know how they got it.

  10. rm says:

    Todd Palin answers woman who calls Palins a “sellout” at Sarah Palin Iowa event (VIDEO)
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/nov05election/detail?entry_id=95350
    Reply

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