House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said “no means no” to the proposed Pebble Mine project. In an opinion he signed for the Alaska Dispatch News, Edgmon and his fellow authors wrote:
“To members of the Pebble advisory committee: Thanks, but no thanks.” They continued: “For those on their first visit to Alaska…”
In truth, just two of the six members of the advisory committee are from Outside. One is formerly with the League of Conservation Voters and the National Parks Foundation; the other has a long resume with both the Army and Army Corps of Engineers, and has been active in restoring the Everglades.
Edgmon and the other authors of the opinion continued: “On Monday, you will gather in downtown Anchorage to discuss how to advance the Pebble mine project. There will be one thing noticeably absent from your meeting though, the people of Bristol Bay.
“We will not be attending. It’s nothing personal. While you might be new to the issue, the prospect of Northern Dynasty’s Pebble project has weighed on our minds since 2001.
“Bristol Bay has thought this over for a long time, and we have long since made up our minds: Pebble mine is not welcome here. The discussion is over.” – House Speaker Bryce Edgmon
“It is an utter waste of your time, and ours, to sit down and discuss how to build a ‘better’ mine in Bristol Bay. That’s because our region does not want a Pebble mine in any size, form or configuration.”
The Speaker was telling advisory members like retired Sen. Willie Hensley, a fellow Democrat, that they are just not part of the discussion about mining on State lands in Southwest Alaska.
“Your committee can work as hard as it wants, but it cannot fix the essential problem with Pebble: The people of Bristol Bay do not want it,” he wrote. “When Pebble invited us to your meeting, it asked us to comment on anything, including ‘engineering design, environmental safeguards and technology, alternatives assessments, environmental impacts, project mitigation, socio-economic impacts, and programs to enhance public benefits.’
“We only have one comment to share: We will never support a Pebble mine in Bristol Bay.”
Edgmon signed the editorial not as a citizen, but as the House Speaker.
The proposed Pebble Project is not actually in Bristol Bay, but is 230 river miles from the bay. To compare:
- Santa Barbara, Calif. to Tijuana: 235 miles
- Seattle, Wash., to Salem, Ore: 219 miles
- Washington, D.C. to New York City: 229 miles
- Baton Rouge, La. to the Gulf of Mexico: 240 miles
- Anchorage to Denali: 231 miles
Perhaps the Speaker and his co-authors were engaging in a bit of public policy theater, but if he opposes this project, hundreds of miles from the bay, is that Edgmon’s official position on any proposed mine in Western Alaska, or just Pebble?
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON CALLS OUT EDGMON
Rep. Tammie Wilson of North Pole said the Speaker doesn’t speak for her. She is a conservative Republican and Edgmon, a lifelong Democrat, rarely agrees with her.
In a statement released today, she called Edgmon’s op-ed “close-minded” and an attitude that Alaska needs to avoid if economic growth and long-term prosperity is to be achieved. She said she would like to see leaders of the Legislature open to discussing those possibilities.
Wilson said she is “baffled that Speaker Edgmon is so eager to shutter dialog on the prospect of economic development in rural Alaska. We have been hearing how Alaska is in a fiscal crisis. The unemployment rate is at one of the highest ever. To dismiss any opportunity to discuss potential development of Alaska is irresponsible and disingenuous, particularly when the Speaker promotes taxing hard working Alaskans…”
The unemployment rate in the Bristol Bay Borough was 14.2 percent in February and 8 percent in April.