Public notice needed
Safety Sound and Bonanza Channel are threatened by one of the most invasive mining proposals ever to reach Nome. We do place our faith in the public process of permitting, or vetting projects and rejecting those that are harmful to the environment and thus harmful to greater good of all.
Last Monday, representatives from all major permitting agencies on state and federal level were here in Nome to hold their annual miners’ meeting. The problem is that the broader public of Nome didn’t know about it until we saw lots of cars parked at Old St. Joe’s on Monday. We just learned about it by accident, mentioned in passing during a conversation. These meetings are way too important for miners and also the general public to not be advertised.
These meetings must be announced to the public so that there is meaningful participation by both miners and non-miners. When approached by the Nome Nugget, the Coast Guard said they gave flyers with the meeting information to the harbormaster for distribution to advertise their meeting. That’s maybe a way to get the word out for a garage sale, but not for a important public meeting called by highly professional representatives from several government agencies. Or maybe they didn’t want a big crowd at the meeting. This approach takes us back to the 16th century when such crude methods were used to disperse critical information to a chosen few.
In 1665, the first English language newspaper was published. It was a court newspaper named the Oxford Gazette, and guess what was their major contents: public notices from the King’s Court and London officials. Since then, the proper public notice has also become an American tradition as it ensured that public notices are put in an independent outlet – a newspaper – that the notices are archiveable, verifiable and accessible to all segments of society. Notices have evolved to be placed in a timely manner in THE NEWSPAPER OF RECORD, which is The Nome Nugget for the Nome and Bering Strait region.
A second impromptu meeting with the same agencies was then called on Monday evening. That meeting —announced in the morning of the same day by hastily produced flyers— was conducted for the sole purpose of addressing Nome’s concerns about the proposed IPOP mining operation at Safety Sound. Wouldn’t you think that permitting agencies knew that they were coming to Nome, and that they should inform the broader public when it concerns mining and especially mining proposals that have most of us up in arms?
While we applaud those agencies for dispatching representatives to Nome in order to hold meetings, it would be nice if they not only show up but also tell us that they’re coming. They’re spending all this taxpayer money on traveling to Nome, they might as well inform us that there is a purpose to the exercise.
Properly posted public notices in the paper of record is an important tool to build an informed citizenry. But sending us to public notices buried somewhere on government websites or handing out a few flyers at the harbor does not cut it. —D.H.—