Dear Editor,

I recently received a copy of an editorial published in the EagleHerald, “Communications director says release was ‘misleading’,” by Nathan Conrad, communications director for the Natural Resource Development Association.

I am the president of the Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2). I have agreed to review the application to construct a tailings dam at the proposed Back Forty mine, but as yet have not received the technical documents I need to perform this review. Nonetheless, Mr. Conrad decided to criticize CSP2 before I have done my analysis.

He said in the letter to the editor: “CSP2 is the same anti-mining group that reviewed a wetland permit last year for opponents of the Back Forty mine. Furthermore, the same local environmental groups opposed to mining previously hired CSP2 to review Eagle Mine’s permits.”

This is attacking the messenger, not the message. It is a logic of innuendo, and a smear tactic. The only factual information in this statement is that a report was done — not that the report was either objective or biased, or right or wrong, and why.

Mr. Conrad goes on to assert: “In 2015, it was made known CSP2 colluded with an “anti-mine coalition” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an attempt to derail the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.”

This is not only false, but unless Mr. Conrad has factual evidence to substantiate this claim, which he doesn’t, it is a libelous statement.

CSP2 provides an objective analysis of the data — data that is typically paid for by, and collected by the mining industry. CSP2’s analysis and critiques are not based on who collected or paid for the data, it is an analysis of the data itself. If there is to be a criticism of our reports, then critique the report, not the reporter.

If, however, Conrad wants to insist that it is political agenda, or who one works for that counts, then who should be trusted, a scientist working for a nonprofit helping citizen groups, or a scientist employed with a for-profit company, paid by the mining industry?


David M. Chambers

Center for Science in Public Participation, Bozeman, Mont.