Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bleatings Of Bill Bennett...Not Just For Domestic Consumption Anymore.


On February 24th, Clarklandian Mining Minister Bill Bennett gave it to the Juneau Alaska Empire for what he saw as a misrepresentation of the facts:

It’s unfortunate your editorial has seized upon the Mount Polley mine tailings storage facility failure to undermine the long tradition of respectful relations and co-operation between British Columbia and Alaska on mining development and environmental protection.

A breach of this magnitude is unprecedented in British Columbia in over 160 years of mining. Major breaches of tailings storage facilities have happened all over the world, including in many U.S. states. Your suggestion, based on the Mount Polley failure, that in B.C. we are somehow less responsible in developing our mining industry than you are in Alaska, or that we’re charging forward without due care for environmental protection is based on a misrepresentation of the facts...


The fine folks who run the little newspaper in the city sometimes mistaken for Ellen Page these days were not amused.

The following is from their response published March 22nd, 2015:

It’s not often the Juneau Empire offers a rebuttal to an submitted column. Waging a back-and-forth war of words isn’t fair for the other party. We buy ink by the barrel and have dedicated staff to get the word out online as well.

However, we must respond to the Feb. 24 'My Turn' penned by Bill Bennett, the Minister of Mines for British Columbia.

Let us start off by addressing the first portion of Mr. Bennet’s piece when he states it was “unfortunate your editorial has seized upon the Mount Polley mine tailings storage facility failure to undermine the long tradition of respectful relations and co-operation between British Columbia and Alaska on mining development and environmental protection.”

Perhaps Mr. Bennett has forgotten about the Tulsequah Chief Mine. Southeast Alaska has not forgotten.

The Tulsequah Chief Mine, located south of Juneau on the Taku River just across the Canadian border, has leached acid runoff into the Taku River since its closure in the 1950s. The Taku boasts notable salmon runs, the same runs which in turn give jobs to many commercial fishermen. There were efforts to revitalize the mine, but those failed for financial reasons and to this day acid continues to taint the Taku...

{snippety doo-dah}

...In the next section of your piece you state the Empire suggested “in B.C. we are somehow less responsible in developing our mining industry than you are in Alaska, or that we’re charging forward without due care for environmental protection.”

Mr. Bennett, there are a number of mines in B.C. that have not done good things for the surrounding environment. The concern from Alaskans stems simply from the desire to not have history repeat itself.

Take the Mount Washington Mine. This 32-acre mine was operational in the 1960s, but beginning in 1966, after the mine’s closure, the population of coho salmon that swam in the adjacent Tsolum River began to suffer. What was once a run of 15,000 fish dwindled to a low of 14 in 1987. According to the British Columbia government watershed assessment in 1995, “the fisheries resource is believed to have declined (by 90 percent) predominantly because of acid mine drainage from Mount Washington.” At one point, the fishery in the Tsolum generated as much as $2 million per year for local communities. Today, the fishery isn’t worth the cost of bait...

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...We read the Mount Polley Report, Mr. Bennett, and we hope you did, too. It clearly states the best way to ensure no tailings dams fail is to discontinue their use. At our neighboring Hecla Greens Creek Mine, a dry stack tailings facility is used. This technology, as noted in the report, is not only recommended but proven to work. Today, Greens Creek is a profitable facility and one Alaskans can be proud to support because our environmental concerns were addressed.

That said, Alaskans are reasonable. We understand that every mine is different. We understand each facility demands a unique solution for tailings storage. But we are concerned that solutions to prevent or completely eliminate a dam breach seem to be going unexplored. Red Chris, for instance, is already filling its tailings facility. Meanwhile, we have heard nothing on whether additional environmental protections have been put in place since the Mount Polley disaster.

Furthermore, you state Red Chris “has not received a permit to go into production.” Yet, a press release from the parent company Imperial Metals on March 2 stated “the plant’s full 12-hour operating shift, without stoppage, took place on February 22,” two days before we published your piece. “The plant milled approximately 15,500 tonnes during that 12-hour period,” the release stated. In February, Red Chris processed just over 193,000 metric tons producing about 2,400 metric tons of copper concentrate.

That sure sounds like “production” to us...


Bring it on, indeed.

And we await, with bated breath, the call out of the Alaskans by the Keef for their lack of standards and/or credibility...Because everybody knows that small time newspaper editors are only a cut above idiot bloggers, right?



Lew said...

I think the only fair way to settle this is for Sarah Palin and Bill’s boss, who of course is our Sarah Palin, to face off in a good old-fashioned mud wrassle.

RossK said...


Well, I don't know about that, but...

While to the best of my knowledge Ms. Clark has never said anything about Mr. Putin and her house, she did once, essentially, say that she saw the good Mrs. Thatcher from her Edinburgh dorm room.

Or some such thing.


e.a.f. said...

Do you think the Empire might be persuaded to come and publish in B.C. At least we'd have some decent journalism in the newspaper industry. Think I'll write them a thank you letter.

Thanks for sharing this.

Norm Farrell said...

I wonder what a commentary on Bill Bennett's bleating would have looked like had it been written by Tom Fletcher of Black Press.

RossK said...


Good idea.

Sending them a letter, I mean



Haven't we already seen that?


Norm Farrell said...

Bill Bennett is not used to journalists disputing his positions after doing fact-based analysis; he's accustomed to reporters and commentators simply rewording government press releases and talking points. Of course, in British Columbia, Postmedia, Black Press, et al see themselves as being in partnership with resource companies and industry organizations.

Don F. said...

Looks to me that ole redneck Bill just got his ass kicked big time. Someone buy that boy a beer. Keith??? Vaughn???

Anonymous said...

This is a very good example of what bloggers & citizen journalists produce daily. Are you reading this Keith Baldrey ?

Guy in Victoria

North Van's Grumps said...

In 2010 Bill Bennett gathered the Press around to relate how Premier Gordon Campbell once took him out to the barnyard shed and spat on him.

Is this Bennett's rendition of Campbell, towards the Juneau Empire?

Anonymous said...

BC chasing Unicorns or rainbows.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone has seen this on the news? I have watched CTV news all day and they haven't mentioned it, or was this news yesterday? If I hadn't read it here, I would not have heard anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Two words
enough said

North Van's Grumps said...

Backgrounder on Juneau Empire ownership (no known contributions FRPC to the BC Liberal Party)

e.a.f. said...

I did write the Empire and apologized on behalf of what is left of the sensible people in the province and explained Bill Bennett, knows not of what he speaks. That unfortunately the poor man has difficulties dealing with reality and facts. This in no way seperates him from our premier who has the nick name queen of the "sparkle ponies".

I requested, should they ever decide to publish in B.C., that they notify me, so I could be the first to subscribe. I explained the Vancouver Sun and Province would not grace their pages with such fact based information such as theirs did. The Vancouver Sun and Province were more like "advertisials for the B.C. Lieberals."

anyhow I think they will have gotten the idea.

It might be a good idea for others to e-mail The Empire so they understand not all of us thing Bill Bennett has all his cards.

Anonymous said...

BC Hydro graph needs updating

2006 to 2014 BC Hydro avg for 9 years is flat at 52,676GWH

15-on march 31 2015 FY end