Yesterday, Commissioner of Public Lands, Doug Sutherland, wrote a letter to State Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon) saying he had not yet approved a controversial lease for mining company Glacier Norhtwest.
Nelson, an opponent of strip mining on Maury Island, sent a letter to Sutherland on Monday asking him to address what she had heard from concerned constituents: Mining company Glacier Northwest had reportedly told King County’s Dept. of Development and Environmental Services that Sutherland was going to issue a required aquatics lease to Glacier (right after the election) that would allow the company to proceed with its controversial mining expansion.
Republican Sutherland is up for reelection in a tight race against outspoken environmentalist, Peter Goldmark. Goldmark has made an issue out of Sutherland donors like Glacier Northwest who, Goldmark says, get political favors from Sutherland.
In his October 16 letter to Rep. Nelson, Sutherland repeated, in much stronger terms, the denial I reported here on Monday issued by Fran McNair, Sutherland’s Aquatic Lands Steward.
Sutherland writes: “As the proprietary manager of state owned aquatic lands, DNR [the Department of Natural Resources] is the decision making authority, not a lease applicant such as Glacier. Therefore any assurances that this prospective lessee may have directly or indirectly indicated concerning their final approval of a pending application should be considered purely speculative and without any merit.”