08 December 2006


Frustratingly, I find myself out of state at the moment of an intriguing development in the story that has dominated my life in Nome.

The Army Corps of Engineers suspended its permits for the Rock Creek mine, a surprising - I think - development in a story that has pretty well dominated my life in Nome. The Corps is trying to play this off as a "temporary" decision so it can further review the permits but it's odd that the decision comes right after a lawsuit challenging the Corps' review process. I will say that in my conversations with Corps people they have been fairly curt and business-like when I asked them questions about the validity of their process, basically saying they know what they're doing and they've done the right thing.

I wonder now, though, if someone upstairs at the Corps has looked at this lawsuit, checked with the folks who issued this permit, realized the lawsuit has merit and the permitting process was not adequate, and is now desperately trying to cover the Corps' back by stopping the construction and essentially starting the process again. I will not be surprised if this permit suspension takes a long time.

This also takes the debate in Nome to the next level, so to speak. I think before this people were content to agree to disagree because the mine proponents were getting what they wanted (construction) even as the mine opponents were making a big stink. Now the mine opponents have actually had a tremendous impact and as people start getting laid off, I wonder if this confrontation won't become a little more open and a little more bitter. I hope not.

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