Army Corps rejects state’s administrative appeal, Pebble Partnership’s request moves forward

Undated shot of the area around the proposed site for Pebble Partnership's mine.
Undated shot of the area around the proposed site for Pebble Partnership's mine.(KTUU)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 6:19 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rejected an administrative appeal filed by the state of Alaska after the corps denied a clean water permit necessary for the Pebble Mine to move forward. Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy released a statement condemning the decision.

According to the governor’s office, USACE determined that the state should not be involved in the matter, despite having direct surface and mineral ownership interests related to the lands in question.

“This is another example of the federal government imposing a flawed decision that blocks Alaska’s ability to responsibly develop its land and resources,” Dunleavy said via press release. “That authority and obligation were laid out in the Alaska Statehood Act and the Alaska Constitution, so I can’t overemphasize the far reaching implications that federal decisions like this have on our ability to have a sustainable and growing economy.”

The governor went on to voice concern over the future implications that the precedent-setting decision would put on all resource development projects located on State land.

“We will not stop fighting for Alaska’s economic prosperity,” he added.

Opponents of the controversial mining project chalk the denied appeal up as a win for the Bristol Bay region.

According to SalmonState’s executive director, Tim Bristol, the fact that Pebble’s 404 permit was denied when Republican Donald Trump was still president proves that it’s not compatible with the protection of those waterways.

His organization agrees with USACE that the Dunleavy admiration’s appeal request had little merit.

“We were not surprised at all. If you look at the regulations, it was clear that the state did not have standing to appeal.” Bristol said.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to the Pebble Partnership after learning about the rejection of the state’s request. A spokesperson with the company said it was informed last week that its request for an appeal has been granted.

Bristol says his group, and others, expect that the fight over Pebble Mine will continue, despite recent victories against the project. Along with SalmonState, United Tribes of Bristol Bay executive director, Alannah Hurley reacted to the news by noting long-term protections for Bristol Bay as an utmost priority.

“Ongoing questions surrounding Pebble’s appeal create uncertainty and confusion for all those who depend on Bristol Bay’s robust natural resources,” she wrote in a email Monday. “The Tribes, communities and others who rely on Bristol Bay need the assurance of Clean Water Act protections that these pristine lands and waters will remain intact for years and generations to come.”

Alaska’s News Source also reached out to USACE; a spokesperson said requests for a copy of the rejection notice couldn’t be given without a FOIA request, and would be delayed until the state received it’s physical copy of the notice via email.

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