November 6th, 2013

Think About It……                                                                                 November 6, 2013

According to Michael Dingman, a fifth generation Alaskan……

Something happened in count last month that the anti-development folks don’t want you to know about and rather than focusing on the facts of the court case….which they don’t want you to know….they are going to show you photos of former State Senator and Alaska Constitution Delegate Vic Fischer and former First Lady Bell Hammond because they are sympathetic Alaskan heroes.

Don’t fall for it.

The two anti-development activists with famous names decided to take the state to court for allowing a mining company to pursue permits.  A read of the court documents seems to show that they argued against the Pebble Mine exploration in a manner that was best suited for an opinion column, not a courtroom.

However, they have famous names —that should be enough, right?

Fischer and Hammond, and other people not so famous, filed a lawsuit to stop DNR from allowing Pebble to conduct the necessary exploratory work to work their way through the permitting process. They claimed that allowing exploration permits to the Pebble Partnership violated the public interest.

Last month Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth’s decision that concluded, “Based on the evidence provided at trial, it is more likely than not that the permits provided for non-exclusive use of State lands and the activities conducted on site did not cause any significant impact or long-term harm to concurrent uses”.

The 154-page court document reads like an advertisement straight from the Pebble Partnership’s public relations office. The Fischer/Hammond team loses on every single count — every single count.

Generally in a complicated case, with ruling this long and detailed, there would be many points made on either side and one side would win the majority of the counts. This is not the case here—the Hammond/Fischer lawsuit came before the court, clearly, without any merit at all.

Bella Hammond lives about 40 miles from the Pebble exploration site and seems to care about keeping the area around her home quiet more than she cares about the thousands of jobs that the Pebble Mine would create for Bristol Bay residents.  She cares more about the noise level on her porch than she does about the economic health of the community.  She says that “helicopters are loud and you can hear them from a long ways away.”

Honestly, who can blame her? I wouldn’t want to deal with that either. However, that doesn’t mean you get to take the state to court and make baseless allegations.  Bella is quoted as saying “This is my home and always will be.  I think I have the right to protest.”—and, she does–just not in the court system.

Now, the defendants—The State of Alaska and the Pebble Partnership—are seeking attorney’s fees from the plaintiffs as they have a right to do under law.

Bella Hammond and Vic Fischer are great Alaskans—No one would argue that point. However, they just don’t get to use the courtroom to state their protest—that is not what the courts are for.

Regardless of how sympathetic Hammond and Fischer might be, and regardless of how famous their names are, the state and the Pebble Partnership still have a right to due process.

Think About It!      John C. Davis    11-06-13

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