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Sen. Murkowski Applauds Kensington Mine Opening

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today applauded the official opening of the Kensington gold mine, saying the project will provide a much needed boost to Southeast Alaska's economy.

"After nearly two decades of review and legal challenges, I'm happy to see this important project moving forward," Murkowski said. "The long awaited opening of the Kensington mine will provide a much needed boost for Southeast's struggling economy and job market."

The mine, located 45 miles northwest of Juneau, will provide create hundreds of well paying jobs and bring millions of dollars in taxes and other revenue to the Juneau area.

Murkowski's position at the top of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee proved pivotal in the development of the mine when she was able to head off efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to kill the project.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the mine had a valid tailings permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA tried to interfere with Kensington's clean water permit. In a face-to-face meeting with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Murkowski got the agency to stand down and allow the mine to advance.

Officials at EPA had objected to Coeur Alaska's plans to dispose of the mine tailings in Lower Slate Lake, and had sent a letter to the Corps asking it to consider alternative solutions. In June 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Coeur Alaska had a valid tailings permit from the Corps. The court's decision re-affirmed that depositing the mine tailings in the lake is the best environmental option. Under the permit, Coeur Alaska is required to rehabilitate and restock the lake once mining activity is completed.

"This has been a long, hard fought battle for Coeur Alaska and the Juneau community," Murkowski said. "It's unfortunate that we must go to such great lengths to overcome opposition to developing our resources and creating jobs. But as long as I serve in the Senate, I will do everything I can to make sure Alaska can access its resources."

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