Paramilitary task force “reminding” miners not to put too much mud in the water.
September 5, 2013
Heavily armed Environmental Protection Agency SWAT teams are now raiding gold miners in Alaska in a search for “possible violations” of the Clean Water Act.
The latest raid, according to the Alaska Dispatch, involved four to eight armed officers, equipped with body armor, ambushing and intimidating miners from the remote town of Chicken, which only has 17 permanent residents.
Video tour of Chicken, Alaska:
“Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say POLICE emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms,” C.R. “Dick” Hammond, one of the victimized gold miners, said.
The EPA disclosed that the raids were part of the “multi-jurisdictional” Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force set up to investigate possible violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the amount of mud discharged into waterways.
When members of the Alaska Congressional delegation asked why the EPA equipped the task force with armor and weapons, the agency claimed that the Alaska State Troopers advised them on “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.”
The state police agency publicly refuted this claim.
“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity,” Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said. “We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring.”
The Alaska Department of Law also said it did not advise the EPA on any current dangers in the area.
Even the U.S. Senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, questioned the EPA’s claims.
“Their explanation, that there are concerns within the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on, sound wholly concocted to me,” Murkowski said. “This seems to have been a heavy-handed, and heavy-armor approach. Why was it so confrontational?”
“The EPA really didn’t have any good answers for this.”
The miners are demanding a September 14 meeting in Chicken with the EPA, the state agencies, and the Alaska federal delegation to publicly discuss the raids.
One of the miners, David Likins, said that they routinely take federal compliance exams and that when a federal agency has a problem with a mining activity, it notifies the miner to correct it.
“This (the EPA raid) was way over the top and uncalled for,” he said. “It was a massive show of intimidation.”
Likins further stated that the task force may have found only one “possible clean water violation” during the course of their aggressive investigation, which he believes created a dangerous situation for both the miners and the agents.
“If it were my mine, and I was sitting on some gold, and people came storming out of the woods, I would probably meet them on the porch, with my shotgun,” he said.
Heavy-handed federal tactics used against honest citizens under the guise of “environmental concerns” have been going on for years.
On April 6, 2001, the U.S. Department of the Interior cut off Klamath River access to Oregon farmers during a drought in order to maintain higher water levels for fish covered under the Endangered Species Act.
This irrigation shut-off in a critically dry region led to massive protests and rallies and even national attention.
Over 20,000 people took part in a “bucket brigade” in Klamath Falls, Oregon in which they passed 50 buckets of water through the city as a sign of protest against the government giving priority to fish over farmers.