Letter: Slapping Alaska icons with bill for attorneys’ fees is appalling

I was stunned to read that the state is seeking over a half million dollars in attorney’s fees and costs against Alaska icons Bella Hammond and Vic Fischer.

Their sin? They apparently wanted public notice and an opportunity for the public to be heard on the land-use permits issued to the Pebble Partnership. Whether one is for or against the Pebble mine, there is no question that the proposed mine presents many issues of great importance to Alaskans. It is appalling to learn that challenging the bureaucrats’ decision to proceed without public notice could result in financial ruin for two revered Alaska pioneers in the sunset of their lives. This is how we reward citizens who have selflessly served Alaska since before it was a state?

I understand that Frank Murkowski pushed through a bill that largely removed the protection for public interest litigants who have the courage to challenge the state. The former governor left several poisonous legacies. That doesn’t mean the current administration has to follow them.

I call on Gov. Parnell to call off the dogs. This is wrong.

— Pat Gilmore