Mining ordinance

Assembly Issues

Mining ordinance

Candidate Responses

All photos by Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

The mayor has appointed a task force to look at rewriting the community’s mining ordinance. Proponents say the existing review is duplicative of state and federal permits. Opponents say it would strip away protections from impacts on the community. Where do you stand?

Maria Gladziszewski

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

The existing mining ordinance was the result of concerted community effort and was adopted unanimously by the Assembly in 1989. Any revisions to the ordinance should keep provisions sufficient to ensure local control over local impacts. In order to have a stable environment for a mining company partner, the goal for any revisions should be broad agreement on the Assembly and broad agreement in the community. Anything less will signal to a potential partner that the community isn’t ripe for investment because it cannot agree on where mining fits into its future. I believe mining should remain in Juneau’s future and would seek revisions appropriate to ensuring that future. If the current task force recommends that improvements be made to the ordinance, then I would consider them, but a valid argument for wholesale elimination of the current ordinance has not been made.

A transparent process for community engagement is crucial to moving forward on a mine in the heart of our town. We must assure all members of the community that their interests and concerns are being represented and considered fairly. As the Report of the AJ Mine Advisory Committee says, “the bitter divisiveness of the previous debate will be less likely if we as a community keep returning to our underlying common interests.”

Andy Hughes

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

I would support a review of the mining ordinance for duplication; and to make revisions complementary to the federal process; and to streamline the overall process. If the federal permit process provides adequate opportunity for public and CBJ comment on concerns with respect to our concern for protection of our local water supply and adverse impact to our downtown core and affected neighborhoods and if the federal process must address and obtain CBJ concurrence that our concerns are addressed; then I would view duplicative processes as imposing an unnecessary burden on both developer and the City at additional cost and delay in reaching a permitting decision. I understand that the CBJ holds significant land interests, which in its self should place the CBJ in a strong position to mold the terms of any development. An example of duplicative permitting requirements is the CBJ requirement for an Eagle disturbance permit, when one is already required by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This permit requirement is simply duplicative and increases costs to all concerned to the detriment of project development timelines.

Jobs are important to this community, so is preservation of the quality of our water supply and environment. I would support making every effort to streamline solicitation of mine development proposals and require that the proposals address how the identified impacts and concerns of affected neighborhoods and the community at large will be avoided or mitigated and provide a preliminary development timeline.

Chuck Collins

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

I am in favor of writing good law. Duplication of services and regulations is costly both to industry and government. Cost that inhibit commerce and raise our city budget. We need to concentrate on control of our property, city land, and make the permitting match the needs of CBJ, allow the State and Federal governments to continue to perform those studies required for the industry to reach permitting stage.

Loretto Jones

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

He appointed a task force and there is an Ordinance 1989 already in place, but no clear plan in place. It can reverse job loss. If the AJ is re-opened there will be other improvements, from having all the mill operations underground, accessed from a small entrance near the rock dump, to disposal of all tailings in the vast network of empty tunnels. While the impacts of a mine o near downtown should come to a public vote. The other logistical is our reliance on Gold Creek as a primary water source. We will need a better costs analysis and try for some modest growth when safe and promising opportunities present themselves. The AJ Mine is just such an opportunity and how we can build an underground world-class gold mine that may someday provide hundreds of millions of dollars for Juneau and those lucky enough to live here. UAS has mining classes, too.

Jesse Kiehl

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

We know you can do mining right in Southeast Alaska. Our two operating hard rock mines are proof. Doing it right under our downtown business district and above our main water supply is a higher bar to clear. We need to have fair rules that give mining companies an honest shot to do it right, and Juneau residents clear protections for the clean air and water we need. So the proposal to delete all local control isn’t right for Juneau. We shouldn’t just decide we’re okay with whatever the people in power in DC any given year will permit.

On the other hand, I support looking for ways to make local permits smoother and more efficient. That’s the approach we took with marijuana businesses—they can pursue state and city licenses at the same time, so our city can make fair decisions for Juneau, and businesses don’t have to go through the same steps twice.

Those are the principles I’ll apply to studying the issue. It has to protect Juneau, give a mining company a fair shot, and not slant the playing field one way or the other.

Rob Edwardson

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

The mining ordinances are appropriate as they are. Fleshing out certain processes would be a good idea. The ordinances are about CBJ adjudicating land use requests. That means that CBJ will use a process to determine whether it is in the best interest of the people of Juneau for a mine to open within the borough. Neither the federal or state government have the duty to determine what is best for the people of Juneau. While CBJ should cooperate with other agencies to reduce unnecessary duplication, it is appropriate that CBJ retains the duty of due diligence when it comes to land use requests in CBJ. The review is not duplicative. I oppose repealing the ordinances.

Debbie White

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

There is currently no proposal to open additional mines. I’m not on the committee that is reviewing the ordinance. I believe it is something we need to examine. Mining has brought many positive financial returns to our community (and no negatives). We need jobs that give people the money to raise families, buy homes, and put down roots to keep our community healthy and vibrant. Of course, we should make sure our local regulations are adequate to protect the community, but we also need to make sure they are not overly burdensome to the point they stop any potential activity.

KTOO solicited the candidates’ answers by email. We’ve edited their written responses for typos, grammar and news writing style — but not for length or substance.

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