Mister Smith Goes to Alaska

Harry Smith, formerly of CBS News and currently with NBC News, reported on a trip to Alaska where he covered the controversy of the Pebble Mine.

This was no puff piece or a screed. His reporting demonstrated clearly the costs to the land, waters, and fish that would result if problems arise at the mine. At the same time, he discussed the difficult choices native groups face.

The native village of Iliamna has decided to support the mine’s efforts to preserve their village; the stark economic choices these poor people face include the price of a half gallon of milk being $13.49 at their local store.

Another village, Igiugig, is opposed to the mine, focusing on the water of Lake Iliamna that is pure enough to drink straight from the lake. That was reflected in what an elder told a fishing guide – the water is who he is; it’s in his soul.

The CEO of the Pebble Mine Group is a former chief of staff at the Interior Department during the presidency of Bill Clinton. He seemed like a reasonable man who spoke calmly and evenly about the need for the mine while stating the mine would not have gone forward if there were environmental risks – something I found difficult to believe given the billions of dollars the minerals in the mine could generate.

Smith treated everyone fairly with no attempt condemn or justify. But he didn’t need to do so; the video of the land and waters is most telling in terms of what can be lost – and what likely will be lost if the mine goes forward.

When there is money on the line, the environment be damned.

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Tom

Author: Tom

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