Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may not be the sharpest tool in Olde John's campaign toolbox, but as a tool of Canadian gold mining interests, she could cut steel -- and she wasn't above blatantly breaking the law to do it.
Gov. Gidget was really fierce opposing clean water standards upstream of Bristol Bay, one of the world’s largest and most sustainable wild salmon fisheries.
It was a big defeat for the fishes, the fishers, the cooks, and the eaters of salmon. (which is what God eats on Sundays).
The Clean Water Initiative ( Ballot Measure 4) was in place in Alaska to restrict the amount of arsenic, acid runoffs, and other toxins that modern large-scale mines might dump into watersheds. It was supposed to protect the salmon that use the rivers and streams to spawn and to safeguard the humans who eat them.
It was aimed specifically at a massive gold and copper mine called Pebble Mine which exposes upstream Bristol Bay to the largest open pit mining operation in the world.
(photo: Palin- she'll take the gold, thank very much)
Bristol produced 31 million pounds of king, sockeye, and chum salmon last year.
Although Palin's popularity has dropped 14 points in Alaska since the unfolding fiasco of her VP candidacy, she was still very popular in August when she spoke out publicly -- probably illegally -- against Ballot 14.
Alaska law forbids a governor from officially lobbying for or against a ballot initiative so to get around the law, Palin exercised what she called “personal privilege,” telling reporters, “Let me take my governor’s hat off for just a minute here and tell you, personally, Prop 4—I vote no on that.” Her opposition counted -- the measure was defeated by 57% of the Alaskans who voted.
Donning metaphorical hats may or may not be legally recognized in Alaska to
break the law, but donned one she did showing alarming
short-sightedness for an Alaskan elected official.
The mining industry employs 5,500 people in the state and generates $200 million in tax revenues. It's finite and will run out one day. Salmon fishing in Bristol Bay alone employs 12,000 people and contributes $250 million to the economy. Fishing is a sustainably managed renewable resource that will be around long after the last ton of ore is dug out of Pebble Mine.
"It's like pissing in your pants to stay warm," Dan McGee, a gillnetter from Moose Mittens told BlatherWatch.
One toxic mine spill in the notoriously earthquake prone area could permanently damage the state's market reputation for pristinely clean, and healthy fish.
Tim Bristol, the Alaska program director for Trout Unlimited, told the Associated Press that Palin's statement of opposition to the measure a few days ago had really hurt the measure's chances.
"She broke the heart of a lot people who love and depend on Bristol Bay salmon," Bristol said.