They’re turning every government agency in our country into mini-armies.
When agents with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force surged out of the wilderness around the remote community of Chicken wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE in big, bold letters, local placer miners didn’t quit know what to think.
Did it really take eight armed men and a squad-size display of paramilitary force to check for dirty water? Some of the miners, who run small businesses, say they felt intimidated.
Miners suggest it might have been better all around if officials had just shown up at the door — as they used to do — and said they wanted to check the water.
Miners from the Chicken area — a gold mining town of just 17 full-time residents and dozens of seasonal miners off the Taylor Highway, between Tok and the Canadian border — said that during the third week of August they were surprised by groups of four to eight armed officers, who swarmed onto their mining claims with little or no warning.
The officers were armed and wearing body armor. They were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and were there to check for violations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act, according to several miners who were contacted by the group. Section 404 governs water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.
The task force’s methods are now being questioned by the miners as well as the Alaska congressional delegation.
Both Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have inquired into the task force’s actions. Congressman Don Young is also looking into it. They have been having a difficult time getting straight answers from the EPA.