Can a small local government hold back a large-scale development, despite much bigger political and corporate forces being ranged against it?
That’s the question facing voters in Southwest Alaska’s Lake & Peninsula Borough who last week passed a ballot resolution banning all large-scale resource extraction, including mining, “that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat”.
No-one is in doubt that the measure is aimed at one of the world’s most important prospective mines in the vicinity of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Few people expect the community to triumph over the likes of Anglo American, commercial interests, and some Alaskan native corporations.
However, on November 7, Alaska’s Superior Court will begin proceedings to consider the constitutionality of the Lake & Peninsula Borough ordinance. It promises to be an interesting hearing.
See also: South Africa mine a poor comparison for Pebble, http://www.adn.com/2011/10/02/2100315/south-africa-mine-a-poor-comparison.html.