PLP calls on EPA to broaden charge to peer reviewers to ensure adequate, fair and science-based consideration of draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment
Pebble CEO says EPA should utilize the company’s extensive Environmental Baseline Document
Anchorage, AK - The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) has called upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to significantly broaden its narrowly focused charge to the Peer Review Panel for its draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, including a specific request that the panelists fully consider the most comprehensive environmental data in the region, the company’s Environmental Baseline Document (EBD).
“We have made a significant, multi-year investment to characterize the environment in and around the Pebble Deposit with a range of scientists and technicians actually getting out into the field to do their work. EPA has indicated that they did not fully consider our science in their assessment, even though they requested it from us and we gave it to them. As there is no new science in the EPA review, there is a wealth of additional information available to the EPA and to the peer reviewers, which could serve to strengthen their assessment. It is our hope that they will take the time and effort to incorporate this information into the final report. Now is an appropriate time to slow down and take the time to get this right,” said Pebble CEO John Shively.
Shively noted that PLP continues to review the draft assessment and will prepare extensive comments on its many deficiencies. Shively said that PLP spent nearly eight years and over $120 million dollars conducting its extensive scientific field studies to characterize the environment in and around the Pebble Project area. PLP’s broad environmental studies program covers approximately 1,500 square miles, while the EPA review covered an area of over 20,000 square miles in twelve short months.
“The EPA should wait to fully inform itself and evaluate the Pebble Project when the federal permitting process has been initiated. While it remains our view that this assessment is being rushed for no apparent reason, we have taken this opportunity to call upon the EPA to conduct this assessment in accordance with its published standards for such a document. The draft product was rushed. The public comment period is being rushed. The EPA should dedicate the time to get this right,” Shively said.
In its June 25 letter to the EPA, PLP outlined several specific actions to expand the EPA’s Peer Review charge on a range of issues, including:
- using the company’s extensive EBD, which was provided to the EPA in December; initial reviews indicate that the authors of the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report only minimally considered this extensive scientific resource about the physical, biological and social conditions around the Pebble Deposit
- ensuring that the report adequately describes and assesses best available mine mitigation measures, such as specific available design, pollution control and mitigation technologies, including (but not limited to) containment or impoundment structures; water treatment, retention and release options; monitoring; adaptive measures in the event of failures; and habitat modification
- assessing other modern, regulated mines near fishery resources, such as those on Fraser River in British Columbia, the Thompson Creek Mine in Idaho, the Red Dog Mine in Alaska and others
- acknowledging the population declines of Alaska Natives in the region and the future of Alaska Native subsistence culture in the region in the absence of mining, as the EPA draft report fails to consider the positive benefits of mine developments for residents of the region, especially Alaska Natives
- recognizing the need for an actual mine plan and alternatives to appropriately consider the issues raised in the assessment, as the current report unquestionably targets the Pebble Project, which has not yet submitted a final mine plan or initiated federal and state permitting processes for resource development.