Hot mic: Southeast environmental leader says he’d ‘like to kill’ Haines mining pro

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There are some words that are hard to take back. During a Zoom teleconferenced call last month, Lynn Canal Conservation’s vice president uttered such words — on a hot microphone.

LCC’s Eric Holle said he’d “like to kill Liz Cornejo.” Cornejo was, until April, an employee of and consultant to the owner of a mining claim south of the Haines highway near the historic Porcupine placer gold camp.

The comment came during a panel discussion about heliskiing operations in the area, another hotly contested subject. According to the local newspaper, there was a momentary pause after the “kill” comment, some uncomfortable laughter, and someone said, “There’s the truth.”

Such is the state of public discourse in the 21st Century. Those who advocate for resource development and jobs do so at their own peril as those on the Left become more emboldened.

The publisher of the local newspaper in Haines brushed it off, and in an editorial he neither excused the Holle statement nor supported Holle’s critics, who called for him to resign from the Lyn Canal Conservation Council. He told the community to calm down and he accused Holle’s critics of being hyperbolic.

As for Cornejo, she hired an attorney who sent a stern letter to Holle, saying what he had said amounted to “hate speech.”

Holle has since apologized in response to a note he had received from Mayor Doug Olerud about the incident. He said he didn’t intend anyone to hear what he had said and had merely flubbed the “mute” button during the call. And he intends to issue an apology to Cornejo.

The editorial from the Chilkat Valley News:

51 COMMENTS

  1. Would it have been ok if he built a gallows and wrote hang “Mike Pence” on it?

    Hard to sensationalize this kind of story after the January 6th Trump tour of the capitol…

    • Yes now liberals have full permission in your mind I guess to be as vile and hateful as they want to all conservative Americans because of what they think happened on Jan 6. Even talking about murder is ok….
      There has always been a double standard – way before Jan 6. Liberals can say whatever they want about women or minorities – and certainly white Christian men, and then try to call anything they don’t agree with from any other side hate speech and/or racist. It’s very predictable and sad

      • I just wish both sides would find common ground because we are ripping each other apart on way to many things

        • Evan, that seems to be your stock response to anyone pointing out the hypocrisy, crimes, lies and abuses of power of so-called “liberals” — that it is just “overstated” and “exaggeration”.
          .
          Why don’t you try thinking for once, and examining reality, before jumping in to defend the indefensible and the manifold hypocrisy and double standards of “your side”?

      • I have plenty of conservative and liberal friends and family alike – all of whom are people of character, and none of them would condone hateful speech because of what happened on Jan 6 (or any other event) – not a single one.
        I should have been clearer when I said there has always been a double standard. This is not directed at all liberals, only folks who think like the fellow I originally responded to thinks. I fully understand people getting upset at times, but talking about hurting someone (or worse) is simply wrong.

    • “Would it have been ok if he built a gallows and wrote hang “Mike Pence” on it?…..”
      Of course not. But killing a miner in defense of Mother Nature is as close as self defense as one can get, no? After all, are miners really human, anyway?

    • John’s been waiting to use that line and now he has. What happened to Ashley Bobbitt or Rosanne Boyland would be a better analogy. That’s what killing looks like.

    • You mean that mostly peaceful tour where the only person killed was an unarmed woman veteran? Where not a single firearm was confiscated? But, I am sure you are okay with hundreds of nights of riots and looting in the name of ‘social justice’. Nothing screams social justice like beatings, murders, burning your local libraries, police precincts and minority businesses. Right?

      • Mayor Dan: That’s a despicable comparison. The core of our very democracy – elections – was nearly destroyed by fooled men and women who were willing to hang the Vice President of the United States of America and shoot the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America. All this frothing violence because of an obvious lie from an obvious sociopathic con man.

    • whataboutism and pretty bad too. You’re saying the lowest behavior of the enraged that can be found during a protest of hundreds of thousands of people is representative of Cornejo and so therefore Holle’s comment is excusable… By the way, the people that broke the windows to get into the capitol were arrested and nobody is disputing those arrests, left or right. But here you are not to say that Holle should get reprimanded, however he doesn’t represent the entire left, like Suzanne puts into the article. You are here to say Holle is excusable because some random people somewhere else did some terrible things one time. This is why people have the impression of the left having so many double standards and using them collectively. There are so many on the left, like yourself, that glom onto any kind of twisted shallow logic they can come up with to fuel their self-righteousness.

  2. ‘It’s all good – didn’t know I missed the mute button’ – does not forgive the comment in any way, shape or form.

  3. Another example that hateful liberals can get away with threatening people and elected officials carry their water. Making excuses-Kyle Clayton. They demonize the person/company that wants to make jobs that will help the regular people. Vote for America First candidates- pro jobs, pro family, pro freedoms and pro small business.

  4. The first I ever heard of Eric Holle was when I was a state employee and he called me. I had the State Forester job, the only nonunion position in the entire division and he called me from Haines. He had a technical question about an obscure financial document which I easily answered for him.

    Then I asked him how he obtained a document that was only a few hours old. My wife and I had lived in Haines, and at that time the Wall St. Journal was always a week or more late. Nothing was promptly delivered in Haines then. Holle said that ADF&G sent out a large broadcast fax to Alaska and national environmental organizations every weekday morning that was a catchall for any document ADF&G thought recipients might like to see that day.

    That Alaska DNR financial document had been in Holle’s fax that morning. State agencies and employees build and maintain constituencies within organizations that hold coincident ideologies, and they operate below the radar during administrations that are not of like mind. If they ever cross a line their unions go to bat for them and the administration loses.

    It’s not a coincidence that according to my recollection a full page 2018 ad for the anti-mining ballot measure of that year listing supporters among biologists had about two-thirds retired ADF&G biologists on that list. This incident and experiences of the sort I explained here typify for me the Alaska resource development public process landscape today, undoubtedly contributing to the reason so few Alaska resources are ever eventually developed.

    As a final comment, I have met Liz Cornejo and spoken with her a few times; she would never speak in the way Holle reportedly did here, and she would never depart from professionalism that firms like Constantine, Teck, and so many others maintain.

    • Appreciate your comment Tomas. I sat through the entire COW meeting where Eric made the comment in question. He was wrong to do so. That said, Liz Cornejo selfishly highjacked the meeting for mining interests. The meeting was solely intended to be a stakeholder discourse on the future of heliskiing in the Haines borough. The irony in all of this is that Constantine Metals and their narrative is irrelevant… they are now the minority shareholder after relinquishing majority control to the foreign-controlled DOWA metals in Japan. CMR is nothing more than a pure propaganda mouthpiece at this point. It’s time to quit referring to CMR as a relevant player and direct all attention to DOWA, and their intention of manipulating irreplaceable American ecosystem for the pursuit of short-term profits that will largely head overseas. True Americans see this and will protect these irreplaceable “assets” and ecosystems for future American generations.

      • Interesting truths if indeed true, but when I hear someone refer to a mining company having “intentions” to manipulate ecosystems for the pursuit of short-term profits”, it’s hard to take that person serious. Irrigation is needed for food. It “manipulates” ecosystems. But one farmer can steal all the water from another farmer or dry up a river and kill all of the fish. Or they can do it responsibly and actually bring more life to the planet than it had before and have a beautiful farm and friendly neighbors. So I’m curious if you don’t want to see a mine developed there ever, and if not, where or how because development vs ecosystems isn’t a zero sum game. It doesn’t have to be, at least. I sure hope not or else we should just kill ourselves and take the beavers with us.

        • Justin,
          Thanks for your comment. Like I mentioned to NWSEASTER below, I am not anti industry. The upper Chilkat Valley is just not the place for a foreign, corporate, large-scale mine. How can you take issue that mining companies sacrifice ecosystem for short-term profits? The life of the mine will be a flash in the pain compared hundreds of years it takes to establish an intact, healthy functioning ecosystem. And when it’s gone, then what? Sure hope the tailings pond doesn’t fail. Sure hope all those mining workers can transition to a new industry. Mining is free to commence in areas that are not last remaining vestiges of harmonious ecosystem. Drive the Washington, Oregon, California coastline. Look at the checkerboard logging operations in northern Idaho. Or watch the black, fertile topsoil blow away and wash down the Mississippi in the midwest due to commercial farming. I can go on.
          The Chilkat Valley is unique in that it’s still largely in it’s pristine condition. Why would we jeopardize once of the last places on earth where this is still the case?

          • Ah yes. You’re just as I suspected. Self righteous and selfish and impractical. Sorry. If you lived in North Dakota, you would be saying the same thing about your backyard in North Dakota. You state that you are pro-industry, but you just want it done in someone else’s backyard. And actually, you don’t really want it done there either because your moral high ground and philosophies wouldn’t allow it anywhere and that helps you feel right with nature and not amongst the villians that provide you many things in your life, like the computer you are using to express your activism. Following your logic without losing integrity, we really all should be living in the dirt and dying off until there is a great equilibrium of nature and humans where humans don’t thrive, but have an equal struggle amongst all of the rest of the living beings. That’s fine if you think that. I don’t. I’m just curious how we can develop Alaska responsibly and don’t think manipulating ecosystems is automatically a bad thing. I view the world as a place for us to harvest sustainably, not a historical natural artifact that shouldn’t be altered in a way that shows our presence. I think Norway is a beautiful place even though it is much more developed than Alaska. So I’m curious how we can have mines, logging, and roads sustainably and I’m open to discussing what’s the right and wrong ways to do that. Don’t really care to discuss these things with people that have no interest in doing anything ever and have only the goal to vilify any soul that proposes development.

          • Justin, I am replying to my own comment as I’m unable to reply to yours for some reason- I like you. Totally understand your perception of my hypocrisy and blatant NIMBYISM. But friend, this is not just any backyard! It is a very special backyard, one superior to most all others within the great U S of A. I know, as I originally hail from a place much less interesting than “Paradise on Earth”, aka.. AK. The funny thing is, most people living in North Dakota (great place and people, btw) – and other locales as mentioned – don’t give a darn about aesthetics, “nature” or other romantic interpretations of landscape. There are places suitable to development. And there are places suitable for “sustainable” development, as you say. And there are also places that should be approached with utmost respect and dignity, and in my humble opinion the Chilkat Valley is one of them. Appreciate the dialogue.

          • I appreciate your decorum. I really do. It is so rare. But I think you also sound like a professional at this and have honed your skills at such engagements to persuade outcomes. Are you? May I ask what you do for a living and your role in this? I still think mining is something that can be done with respect to the beauty of such a place. For example, the Kennicott mine is a tourist destination and it is scenic and alluring and the history of mankind’s pursuits there are something to behold, imagining the kind of harty men that worked and lived in such a place, developing such a complex in such a wild and remote place with so much less tech and convenience that we have today. What I am concerned about is the technical details of a mine because mining companies can be callous and brutish and can do reckless things but these emotional debates with wafty words that want the debate in the philosophical clouds never really mean anything for me at the end of the day. They stand in the way, no matter what the location, of practical development and effective means to provide parameters for what is responsible development that will be something respected and sustainable down the road. So for me, you just don’t want it touched, and you really do seem to be demonizing those that are pursuing development because that intention alone makes someone malicious. I see nothing wrong with a spokesman for a mine bringing up that heli-skiing doesn’t get a different standard than a mine just because the super rich that can afford to do such a thing wear patagucci and have anointed themselves because they know how to talk the talk and have the right “feelings” for mother earth. And spokespeople will do what they can to pursue the goals of who they represent. You are seemingly doing the same here. As long as they aren’t being deceitful or lying, I see nothing wrong with that. Definitely don’t think those people make me want to choke them. So can you give me specifics or is it just more about how gorgeous of a place it is and how pristine it is and you don’t trust foreign investors? I don’t trust foreign investors especially, either, and never trust any corporation or non-profits foreign or domestic just cuz they know how to say the right things or because they think they are morally superior than everyone else. This argument that “this place is one of the last rare places untouched” means ultimately that we should stop all development in any “majestic” place because any new development is just an encroachment on what is so so rare. So I think that is sensational thought without giving meaningful calculated assessments, because I don’t know if you noticed, but “pristine untouched” locations, aren’t so rare in Alaska because only the very wealthy or very dedicated get to experience most of it. The very small amount that is accessible is overrun because there are so few options like that. Anyway, can you point me to some more specifics? Oh, and I don’t mind the checkerboard logging look. If you are a logger, you enjoy the forest and nature just as much as anyone else, probably more so. Some people choose to get their hands dirty and DO things instead of just work at a desk with a treadmill, and then go on scenic drives on the weekend that they don’t want ruined by the site of someone doing something they think is so barbaric and beneath them.

            BTW – I’m just some random IT guy that loves Alaska that moved here from Wyoming a few times, starting as an 18 year old, until I decided I really can’t stay away and have made this my forever home. I can relate with wanting to keep people out, but I just think we can do a lot more in Alaska to make it much more than just an oil and fishing state and allow more development and make things more accessible to people that aren’t the elite and self righteous. Coming from Wyoming where we heard from a lot people that moved in from out of state that have no concept of how real people get real things done, I’m pretty tired of hearing things like “last places on earth that shouldn’t be touched” when talking about my home state that I know much more about and actually cherish more than they do. Loggers and ranchers, for example, choose that profession because they love that surrounding and that way of life. Those jobs truly are more than a job. They are a culture and a lifestyle with long lines of different philosophies coming from different generations of what makes them gentlemen and they debate and feud within themselves until someone from outside comes in with a lot of political weight wearing a really expensive recycled plastic ripstop coat that rips apart immediately if it gets caught on a branch and says “you fools. You don’t know what you are doing. You need to save this for the future generations”, when what they mean is “you need to save this so it looks the way I appreciate it so you don’t ruin it for my summer home that I hope to pass down to my spoiled kids who will also become elitists that think development looks terrible unless it involves windmills and solar panels, or whatever else WE say is ok .”

            Not saying that is completely you, but you are harmonizing with that arrogance quite a bit, and I’d rather just talk about things that are technical, specific, and quantifiable so I can know to pay attention.

        • This is great dialogue. Again, I appreciate your perspective and would love to discuss over a cold beer sometime as I think we’re not so different.

          I have no dog in this fight other than I own property 30 miles downstream from the proposed mine. I am not a professional opinion-changer, nor independently wealthy, although I’m humbled by you suggesting so. I come from a blue collar family within the rural midwest. I have no formal association with industry nor environmental groups.

          I likewise support responsible development, but take issue that Dowa has in fact been deceitful in their approach. When you look at this saga objectively, it’s easy to see how they’ve railroaded the local process. I’ve mentioned a few specific examples in other comments. They’ve subverted local will and wrapped their tentacles around many local issues, including the development of the Lutak dock and proposed accompanying ore terminal, just as Skagway smartly decided to pass the baton onto Haines once they’ve realized the extent of their existing terminal’s damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

          I empathize with your notion of the working man. It was always my dream to be a corn and soybean farmer. However, my family owned no land so it was never a realistic option due to an incredibly steep barrier to entry for those without a clear pathway into the lifestyle. Hence I went to business school and now work within on the business side of the viticulture industry. So in a sense I made it into farming after-all, just within a different scope.

          So I think you’re on to something when it comes to getting your hands dirty, whether by logging, mining or farming, etc. There’s a case to be made that many of societies current problems could be fixed by having more of the populace return to a much simpler way of living. It’s hard to find time to complain when you’re focused on finding your next meal or making sure there’s enough wood on hand to stay warm for the next week. We’ve lost something as a community as we’ve traded uncertainty for convenience.

          But selectively and strategically harvesting second growth forest is much different than clearcutting old growth with reckless abandon. The small-scale Kennicott is not a fair comparison to a massive 21st century industrial juggernaut. I agree that we must aspire to achieving a responsible balance between development and conservation. I also believe respectful, thoughtful dialogue is the first step to achieving that harmony. Thanks again the conversation.

          • Well, I think we do agree and disagree, but most importantly agree on how to converse. Cheers to you, and I certainly would love that beer someday. I think ultimately the editor of the paper has a point and I think taking “like to kill Liz Cornejo” literally is ridiculous. However I believe this is more about pointing out the double standard than taking it literal. Lets be honest, if a conservative made this blunder, some vindictive idiot somewhere would be feigning fear and calling the FBI or something. Perhaps not if people are being mature, but that doesn’t seem so common and the pitchforks come out quickly. And even having the emotion that would make one want to blurt out such a thing, even if not serious, is the wrong emotion to have. It’s not just the words, but the emotion that is unprofessional and it seems like we sincerely agree on that. I admit, however, in this heated polarized climate it can be tough. Lord help us. I fear it’s going to get worse before it gets better. With real serious issues occuring and social media and the anonymity and separation of distance the internet allows, people are acting like New York cab drivers in rush hour traffic. I have no doubt that if this meeting wasn’t on a zoom call, but in person, Holle would have had much more composure and reverence.

    • Thomas, Thank you for your comment, Liz deserves as much. While the industry is held to a legal standard for reporting only factual data (publicly traded company), the opposition .. . . not so much. The scales of professionalism are very sadly tipped against industry, but they remain professional and committed good public discourse. I note in a comment below, that someone said “Cornejo selfishly hijacked the meeting for mining interests,” a perfect example of what I mean. . . . . Liz read the State Statute defining critical habitat. Most reasonable people would assume that reading the State’s definition of critical habitat in a meeting about Heliskiing and it’s impact on critical habitat (ie goats), would be considered on topic. But is sounds better to say she “selfishly hijacked the meeting for mining interests.” Perhaps it was the introduction of facts that was so offensive.

      • NWSEaster- interesting perspective. But were you present in the meeting? Have you listened to everything said, verbatim? Why do you think Liz took issue with Eric Holle’s definition of “critical goat habitat”? It was not because she give’s a hoot about heli skiing, or the 50+ people in the meeting whose livelihoods depend on it. She was protecting DOWA metal’s interests on public record, an incredibly hot-button issue for locals and incredibly selfish. (That said, she knows if heli skiing scales, it will put more negative pressure the ill-fated mine). The mine does have, and will continue to have it’s time for discussion. This was not one of those instances.

        And funny you mention “facts”. Let’s talk about them, shall we? Constantine Metal Resources (better known as Japanese mega mining consortium DOWA…) has been misleading investors with phony data since the beginning of the project. They were recently ordered by the Toronto Stock Exchange to amend investor language due to misleading claims relation to road access. Their Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) is also rife with fluff, bogus data, and grossly misreported mitigation costs. Look it up. Read the PEA. These are “facts”.

        Another wrong mine at the wrong place. I’m not anti industry. Mine all you want. Farm all you want. Log all you want. Just do it in North Dakota, or Kansas, or Nevada. Don’t do it adjacent to the largest intact wilderness area on earth.

  5. A very reasonable response from the local papers editor, maybe the sole grown up in room. Clearly Mr Holle was in the wrong and hopefully he learns some manners and grows up from this event – and doesn’t make these comments again whether the mic is on or not. It’s hard to pound on him too hard when our US Representatives engage in very similar speech. See comments and posts from Rep Gosar.

  6. What Clayton editorialized in the last two paragraphs of his article in the Chilkat Valley News is not wrong. But the problem is what’s good for the gander ain’t good for the goose! Civility is missing in public discourse! Restraint is also missing and hyperbolic responses are excepted and rewarded in the public square.

    As to Mr Holle’s comments, individuals on any side of the spectrum will not learn lessons and refrain from engaging in such unnecessary rhetoric unless there is a consequence for their utterances. In this case he should resign.

    We would all find a more meaningful debate if we held ourselves responsible for what we say. Judging our comments by would we want our children, our mothers, our families, or our spouses to hear? Or are we just trying to impress our own egos by saying what ever we want?

  7. How perfectly, hatefully, leftist. But Trump supporters are always labeled as the haters. Wake the hell up America!!!

  8. But when comedian Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself (May 2017 & reposted it again in November 2020) holding up a Donald Trump mask made to look like a severed head, some call it “artistic license”?

  9. Good thing he was not testifying at a school board meeting. Merrick Garland and the DOJ would tag him as a domestic terrorist.

  10. “He said he didn’t intend anyone to hear what he had said” as there was no other person in the room he was in? He was talking to himself? If this is true then it is even more disturbing. Maybe he was having a conversation with some sort of perceived entity.

  11. NO matter what you think about mining, left vs right, or whatever cause you align with, it begs this question:
    Whatever happened to the little song we sang as kids when a bully would taunt us on the playground?? ‘Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but WORDS Can Never Hurt Me’

    Never mind, the parasitic lawyers of our country have found another way to pad their pockets based on ‘Words as Weapons’. What’s next? Will we litigate raised eyebrows or a frowny face?

      • So true, unless you refuse to wear the muzzle to avoid mask induced hypoxia and end up cross-wise with the ‘authoritarians’ and in need of representation. Illustrates my earlier point of litigious over-reach:)

  12. Saying you want to kill someone is against the law. But nothing will happen to him. Whatever happened to the #MeToo movement? A woman has been threatened here.

  13. Many people have been charge with crimes for saying less. The standard for conviction is if the threat specific and would a reasonable person conclude that the threat is credible. Certainly this threat is specific. I don’t know Eric Holle or his history, but it’s probably worth a visit from the local police. Normal, well adjusted people do not say they’d like to kill someone they disagree with.

  14. In my opinion, Mr. Holle should be completely disarmed, and placed under psychological observation. And medicated according to custom.

  15. Here we go again. The above report is similar to those of CNN or other leftist MMM sources. “Like to kill Liz Cornejo” is not even a complete sentence. With something controversial, shouldn’t the quote be accurately made, including a reasonable amount of verbal context. The quote should include the complete sentence in which the offensive phrase is part of plus the two sentences leading up to and trailing it. No paraphrasing, excerpting, or editing–just the raw, unadulterated quote. That way, us readers can judge for ourselves.
    .
    We all know these enviro-nazis are unequivocal tyrants. But we need to stay on the high road with our reporting.

  16. Haines, a working man’s town,, once run by a Mr. Potter type, ( see It’s a Wonderful Life ) named Schnabel. Then along came the trust fund babies starting in the late ’70’s. Now it’s a hodgepodge, but mostly the politically active are the back East and California T- fund babies. Just saying…

  17. Thanks Suzanne, if the comment would have come from a conservative, the FBI would have been called in and the offending remark would have been regarded as white supremecist hate speech, the offenders handcuffed while his house ransacked. It’s funny how easily tolerance and critics of hyperbola are offered by the left when they offend and how dramatic is the difference when it’s a conservative. Interesting the “Cancelling” is mentioned as an offense here, when it was the left who invented it and continues to deploy it. Just look at the total mis-information and factual distortion that the left media served up to the American public regarding the recent shooting trial – contrast that against the driving mishap through the Christmas parade. It’s a brave new world out there.

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