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Final EIS Released for Pebble

Jul 24, 2020 | Government, Mining, News

Pebble Limited Partnership CEO calls EIS a significant project milestone

The US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District (USACE) published the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Pebble Limited Partnership’s application to discharge fill material into waters of the United States for the purpose of developing a copper-molybdenum-gold mine project in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. 

The final EIS is not a permit decision and does not authorize operation of the mine. The Corps is responsible for making a permit decision under two authorities—Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act; neither of these authorities permit the mine plan of operation. A record of decision will be written identifying the Corps’ final permit decision no sooner than 30 days from the date of this notice.

As of today, the document is available electronically at the Pebble Project EIS website. Also, the final EIS may be viewed electronically at the following public libraries: Alaska Resources Library and Information Service; Bristol Bay Borough Libraries serving King Salmon, Naknek, and South Naknek; Dillingham Public Library; Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; Homer Public Library; Kenai Community Library; Soldotna Public Library; UAA/APU Consortium Library and Z.J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.

Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier hailed today’s publication of the final EIS as one of the most significant milestones thus far for the Pebble Project:

“Today was really fifteen years in the making. From the beginning, we dedicated the time, resources and technical work to ensure we had a project that could be done responsibly, be done without harm to the Bristol Bay fishery, and provide meaningful contributions to the communities closest to the project. After an extensive, rigorous, and transparent review process the USACE has concluded the Pebble Project meets that mark. This is the same federal review process that has brought Alaskans decades of North Slope development and a host of other resource development projects that were resisted every step of the way by opponents of responsibly developing Alaska’s resources that now provide jobs and economic activity for thousands of Alaskans.

“Alaskans, especially the residents of Bristol Bay, have never received the real Pebble story and after a lengthy misinformation campaign many were led to believe a mine at Pebble would harm the fishery. Today’s report from the USACE turns that lie on its head – returning salmon won’t be harmed, subsistence fishing won’t be harmed, and the commercial fishing industry won’t be harmed. The final EIS for Pebble unequivocally shows it can be developed without harming salmon populations. It clearly states that no long term measurable impacts to returning salmon are to be expected and there will be no long term changes to the health of the Bristol Bay commercial fishery.

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“Some will criticize the USACE and the process they followed to get to this point. That is unfortunate. The USACE is staffed by some of the most diligent public servants in our government. Project detractors will surely take this report to court and I welcome that challenge because the process is sound and defensible. The process has been thorough. It has been thoughtful. I have worked in federal permitting for most of my career and can say with certainty the USACE has done a very good job. I have been laser focused on making sure that any permit received for the project could withstand a court challenge and I am confident the process followed to produce this thorough EIS will prevail.

“Pebble can potentially make a significant contribution to Alaska’s economy with hundreds of millions in annual activity and a multibillion-dollar construction phase. It could mean good, year-round jobs in Southwest Alaska where full-time employment is seriously lacking. We have worked to establish solid business relationships with Iliamna Lake village corporations where the local hire commitment can be fully realized. We have broader support closest to the project where stakeholders have had time to learn about all aspects of the project and have seen the positive impact of our exploration work. Pebble could be a tremendous economic catalyst for the region and for Southcentral Alaska. And it can be done without harming the fishery and water resources of the region.

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“Now that the federal review has so clearly stated that this project can be done safely and without harm to subsistence and commercial salmon harvests, I encourage Bristol Bay residents to register for the Pebble Performance Dividend to share in the Pebble opportunity. Eligible participants signing up by the end of July qualify for one of five early $1000 dividends that will be paid out until construction.

“Alaskans have demanded that Pebble, and any Alaska resource development project, meet its high standards before the project could advance. Today, we have passed a critical milestone on that journey. I want to commend and thank the many people who have helped get us to this point. We look forward the seeing the Record of Decision for the project, initiating the state’s rigorous permitting process, and ultimately constructing a mine at the Pebble Deposit. And, I look forward to Alaskans learning more about the real Pebble story for themselves and recognizing it can be done responsibly.”

Update: Jason Metrokin, President and CEO of BBNC, made the following statement regarding the Pebble Mine EIS:

“As we have said throughout this process, and as Congress emphasized in the Fall of 2019, adverse impacts to Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery and ecosystem from the proposed Pebble mine are unacceptable. Though we are closely examining the entirety of the EIS, it clearly states that a 20-year mine plan would, at minimum, directly impact over 3,000 acres of wetlands and other waters, over 2,200 acres of which would be lost permanently, and directly destroy over 105 miles of streams. These impacts are the result of mining just 13% of the ore deposit; Pebble Limited Partnership acknowledges the mine is likely to expand in the future.

Put simply, the EIS does nothing to alleviate our concerns about the myriad risks Pebble would pose to Bristol Bay’s watershed, salmon, way of life, and economy.

BBNC supports responsible development, but time and time again, the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) has proven it cannot meet the rigorous standards necessary to permit this project.  Recently, and just weeks before the release of the EIS, PLP submitted a new project description that includes a revised transportation route – a route that uses BBNC lands despite our specific refusal to allow such use – and a new, previously unexamined, port facility design. Such major changes with little time for analysis is, unfortunately, standard practice in what has been a fundamentally broken permitting process.”

BBNC plans to release a more detailed analysis of the EIS in the coming days, following a full review of the document.

Additional analyses of previous versions of the EIS are available at the links below:

 

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When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.

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