Alaska leaders respond to Army Corps Decision on Pebble Mine

Sen. Murkowski and Sullivan, BBNC, Pebble Partnership and more
Exploratory equipment at the Pebble deposit, the proposed site of Pebble Mine.
Exploratory equipment at the Pebble deposit, the proposed site of Pebble Mine.(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 5:59 PM AKDT
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U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan both released statements following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announcement that the Pebble mine project in Alaska cannot be allowed under the current proposal.

The Corps released its statement after finding the project would possibly result in significant environmental degradation and have significant adverse effects on the Bristol Bay ecosystem.

The statement released goes on to say the Trump administration has provided a fair and thorough process to evaluate the proposed mine. Murkowski and Sullivan say they strongly supported the administration’s decision to reverse EPA’s preemptive veto of the project.

In December 2017, Pebble submitted it’s permit application to the Corps. The agency completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project in July 2020.

New release from Congressman Don Young: Congressman Don Young Issues Statement Following Army Corps of Engineers Decision on Pebble Mine

“The debate over Pebble Mine is not new, and through it all, I have been consistent in my position that we needed to allow the scientific process to determine what effect, if any, this mine would have on Bristol Bay. And that meant letting the science, not politicians, environmental activists, or bureaucrats make a determination about the future of the proposed Pebble project.”

The announcement from the Army Corps indicates a significant amount of compensatory mitigation is needed to offset the potential environmental impacts of the proposed mine at this present time. While not an outright veto of the project, this is a steep hill for the company to climb.

In a new release from Dr. Al Gross who is running for U.S. Senate, he says the Pebble Mine Project would have had disastrous effects on Alaska’s Sockeye Salmon fishery in Bristol Bay and surrounding territory. “It was an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen and that’s why I opposed it from the very beginning.”

Letter from Pebble Partnership: USACE Letter on Wetlands Part of the Normal Permitting Process

In a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Pebble Partnership, they outline their expectations for compensatory mitigation wetlands impact associated with the project.

“The letter we received today is a normal letter in the permitting process and we are well into an effort to present a mitigation plan to the USACE that complies with the requirements of their letter. A clear reading of the letter shows it is entirely unrelated to recent tweets about Pebble and one-sided news shows. The White House had nothing to do with the letter nor is it the show-stopper described by several in the news media over the weekend.

“The letter does not ask for a delay or pause in the permitting process. In fact, it clearly states that the USACE is continuing its work toward a Record of Decision for the project. This is the next step in what has been a comprehensive, exhaustive two-and-a-half-year review of the project. Nothing in the letter is a surprise to us or them.

To read more click HERE.

In a news release by The Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) President and CEO, they made the following statement, BBNC has formally opposed Pebble since 2009.

“The real winners of today’s decision are the people of our region. The future of Bristol Bay is more secure because local stakeholders have been unwavering in their efforts to disclose the true impacts this project would cause to the region’s fisheries, fishing-based economy and subsistence way of life.”

“Though today’s announcement is welcome news, it is not the end of the journey. While BBNC supports responsible resource development, the proposed Pebble mine has never, even after decades of planning and outreach, been able to prove that it can be built and operated without causing significant degradation to the Bristol Bay region and its fisheries. We appreciate the Corps’ announcement today about Pebble and will continue our work to find other, more responsible economic opportunities for the region and our shareholders.”

In a new release from Commercial Fisherman for Bristol Bay and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, the two say they “celebrate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conclusion.”

The release says the Bristol Bay fishermen have fought the project due to the tharm they say it would bring to “our fishery” for more than a decade.

“Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen applaud the Army Corps and Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan for making a commitment to safeguard the world’s largest wild salmon run. Alaska’s Senators have repeatedly made it clear that the project would need to pass a very high bar to advance through permitting, without trading one resource for another,” said Andy Wink, Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Seafood Development Association. “This determination highlights the extensive damage the Pebble Mine would have on salmon habitat.”

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