For Tiffany, All that Glitters Isn't Gold

Occupy Wall Street’s demands seem incoherent and childish, but one of the reasons the protesters have struck a chord with the American people is the unsavory conduct of a number of major corporations. News stories have focused on a few big financial firms, but if you want to see a venerable company in another field behaving badly, take a look at Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany has decided to curry favor with their rich and famous and largely politically correct clientele by going green in a shamelessly hypocritical way. Three and a half years ago, the upscale jewelry store chain signed on to a campaign by an obscure environmental pressure group to stop a major new copper and gold mine in Alaska.

To be fair, a lot of other jewelry retailers, including Target, WalMart, Zale, and Cartier, have also signed Earthworks’s "No Dirty Gold" petition. Most have done so because their web sites and in some cases their stores have been besieged by anti-mining activists. Signing the petition is a cheap way to earn a little green virtue.

But now Tiffany has started to put money and its public prestige into the effort to stop development of the proposed Pebble Mine, which is located two hundred miles southwest of Anchorage in the Bristol Bay area. Tiffany is one of the sponsors of a “roadshow” put on by “Save Bristol Bay.”

The roadshow consists of public screenings in six Western cities (Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Denver) in October and a private screening in New York City on November 1st of a propaganda film that claims that the Pebble Mine would harm or even destroy Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery.

This charge would be extremely worrying if there were any chance that the mine would pollute the rivers, because the Bristol Bay watershed is the largest sockeye fishery in the world and has big runs of several other varieties of salmon. If this were 1911 or even 1961, that would be a legitimate concern. But in 2011, federal environmental controls are so strict that the water that new mines put back into rivers is cleaner than before the water was taken out of the river.