Breaking: Pebble mine permit denied by feds - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Breaking: Pebble mine permit denied by feds

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a critical environmental permit to the Pebble Partnership, owner of the proposed Pebble Mine.

“We are obviously dismayed by today’s news given that the USACE had published an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in July that clearly stated the project could successfully co-exist with the fishery and would have provided substantial economic benefit to the communities closest to the deposit. One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area. The EIS clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy – especially at a time when Alaska is seeing record job losses from the impacts associated with Covid,” wrote John Shively, CEO of the project.

“The Pebble Deposit contains minerals such as copper that are in the national interest as they will be necessary to support the nation’s transition to more renewable sources of energy and a lower carbon future. President-elect Biden has stated that increasing domestic copper production will be an important step in meeting these goals.

“Since the beginning of the federal review, our team has worked closely with the USACE staff to understand their requirements for responsibly developing the project including changing the transportation corridor and re-vamping the approach to wetlands mitigation. All of these efforts led to a comprehensive, positive EIS for the project that clearly stated it could be developed responsibly. It is very disconcerting to see political influence in this process at the eleventh hour.

“For now, we will focus on sorting out next steps for the project including an appeal of the decision by the USACE.”

The statement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the discharge of materials would not be able to meet the terms of the Clean Water Act:

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District issued a record of decision that denies the Pebble Limited Partnership’s permit application to develop a copper-molybdenum-gold mine in southwest Alaska under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

“This decision on the proposed Pebble Project culminates a review process that lasted nearly three years and involved the development of an environmental impact statement. That assessment included an in-depth analysis of project alternatives along with an examination of supplemental technical information provided by cooperating agencies and the public. In its record of decision, USACE determined that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest. 

“This action is based on all available facts and complies with existing laws and regulations. It reflects a regulatory process that is fair, flexible and balanced. USACE is committed to maintaining and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development.

“We strived for transparency, collaboration, accuracy and expediency throughout the decision-making process. We truly value and appreciate the contributions of everyone who engaged in this endeavor. Now, I’m proud to say that we delivered on our promise to conduct a thorough review and make a timely permit decision.”

Congressman Don Young was the first of Alaska’s delegation to issue a statement:

“From the very beginning of the debate surrounding Pebble Mine, I have been consistent in my position that we needed to allow the process to play out and that decision making should be based on sound science. Today, it appears that the process has concluded. This is state land, and to me, this has always been a states’ rights issue. Although I thank the Army Corps of Engineers for their work and am confident that they faithfully followed the process, I remain disappointed that the federal government gets to decide before Alaskans do. Now there must be a consideration of how the federal government will compensate the State for the loss of economic potential. The proposed mine has always been subject to political intrigue and the whims of outsiders who simply do not understand our state. Throughout my career, I have always defended our right to extract oil and minerals responsibly. Going forward, I will continue fighting to ensure that proposed projects are fairly judged on their merits, so that the voices of outside extremists do not stifle Alaska’s potential for jobs and economic growth.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The left despises Alaska and the left IN Alaska despises Western Alaskans. They want them out of work, with no future, as permanent wards of the state. You’ll never see another mineral extraction project in Alaska as long as the left is in power. They would rather we get our minerals from China, and make them stronger, since they share a similar philosophy and worldview. The left never brings ideas for wealth creation to the table. It’s always about creating more dependents, and diluting or destroying wealth. I’m old enough to remember when the Democratic Party represented the worker, and to some extent, small businesses, and the middle class. Now it is exclusively the hand maiden of the billionaire class and the CCP.

    • Uh, the permit was denied by a Republican administration.

      • ACoE is part of our military, not the administrative branch.

    • Too bad there are so many democrats that are blind to this and just blindly vote for their own demise.

    • Isn’t Senator Dan Sullivan opposed to the Pebble Project?

      • Not until Pebble’s management got recorded claiming they had Sullivan in their back pocket. Now Sullivan is doing damage control, claiming that he was against Pebble all along.

  • The economic future of this state is disastrous.

  • This isn’t the Trump administration, it is the bureaucratic morass that has existed since Obama was in office. They are positively giddy about the possibility of a Biden, return to Obama, administration. The continual constriction on the ability of the State of Alaska to develop it’s natural resources will result in Alaska becoming a welfare state, more than it is already.

    • Included in the bureaucratic morass seeking to block sensible development of this mine is Donald Trump Jr…. who should have never rendered his biased opinion. He is a wealthy individual who’s interest is in preserving a playground status for his own enjoyment at the expense of Alaskans needing the gainful employment.

  • This was done during the final days of the Trump reign. Does anyone thing Pebble can do better under Biden?
    I don’t think so.

    • can’t do any worse. Big Mike spent two years kissing the wrong behind. Let’s hear all the good things Trump did for AK. oh yea ANWR.

  • So much BS!! Suzanne, I and a great many other Alaskans that you apparently prefer to marginalize would greatly appreciate if the otherwise good MRA would cease being a propaganda outlet for the Pebble Partnership

    • I have followed this somewhat closely, and I continue to believe that MRA has shown exceptional media objectivity and balance with regard to resource development, including Pebble – a standout in the statewide and national media. Alaskans expect no less from MRA. However, the entire Pebble public process has been entirely politicized by the various agencies and numerous levels of the federal government. The environmental extremist theater that ensnared the two Pebble executives had nothing to do with science or public process, but it did help one US Senate candidate as must have been intended. Suzanne Downing is widely trusted, well respected, prompt in covering the issues we all follow, and entirely reliable!

      • Regarded much more highly than some of her dissenters.

    • “Marginalize” You’ve learned the victim narrative well. What else do you feel sorry for yourself about?

  • Another fantastic project shut-down. A project that would’ve certainly brought economic hope and prosperity to well deserving Alaskans, present and future generations.
    Now, one must wonder what economic opportunity is in store for Alaska businesses and workers? If you’re in the O&G – Mining – Resource Extraction Industry, what other projects will be ‘mere’ political pawns, at the fate of ‘others’ and their political agenda.
    Oh Well … Such is Life!!!

  • With “friends” like the leadership of NDM, proponents of Alaska’s private sector economy are finished. Their incompetence is astonishing. I’m not sure they aren’t working for the anti-development sector.

    • I’ve said many times that NDM’s leadership was an albatross around Pebble’s neck. They simply couldn’t resist running off at the mouth.

  • Amazing the obese orange turd’s administration getting things right as he is ejected from office in disgrace. He can mull and wallow in his failure in prison for money laundering and tax evasion. What a huge embarrassment to the USA.

    • Rob, nice talk about your president. You are exactly what’s wrong with America. Be civil and merely agree to disagree.

    • Its all a matter of perspective. if you rank-order the last five presidents according to actual accomplishments that strengthened and improved our nation, Trump ranks highest. Those with low-resolution thinking tend to let Trump’s personal countenance blind them to his accomplishments.

    • Are we cross? He hasn’t lost yet.

    • Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments were the best since Reagan. His domestic policy was obliterated by the virus.

  • Note that no specific potential problems are noted that disqualify the project. Note also that Donald Trump Jr. has been influenced by mine opponents and been vocal in opposition to the project. Everything about this decision smells political.

  • Alaska has just become another “Banana Republic” ruled by petty war-lords (Murkowski & Sullivan) which discourages investment in Alaska.
    IMO the ACoE took Murkowski’s & Sullivan’s threats of de-funding them so they couldn’t finish the Pebble RoD (Record of Decision) to heart. ACoE’s denial of Pebble’s mitigation plan is simply a statement that they don’t have the ability to resist political pressure under a Biden presidency.
    The EPA activists and Environazis have had a great victory today. Their CCP masters will reward them well. Meanwhile, Alaska’s economy may be heading for an unprecedented meltdown.
    The defeat of SB-1 will be meaningless, as the political climate for investment here has done a 180. The push-back from the mineral and energy sectors could make Biden’s avowed green goals unattainable within his presidential term.
    It’s not that glum looking for myself though. I sold all of my shares in the Pebble mine (NAK on NYSE) a few days ago, at .85, and re-bought them today at .37. This more than doubled my holdings.
    Pebble’s intrinsic value is plain for all to see. America’s need to become mineral and energy independent from China is clear. Pebble will happen, maybe too late to stop America from becoming a third world country. Maybe when CCP buys it and tells their pawn Environazis to lay down and …. themselves.

    • It’s hilarious that Collier et al were hooked by supposed ‘Chinese’ investors. And you you have been fine with that if they were legit, right? Today was a great win for AK! You full well know that mining puts relatively NOTHING into State coffers. Nearly 1/3 of all miners are from out of state, similar to oil. No income tax = no State income.

      • Apparently you flunked economics 101.

      • Have you ever heard of Alaska’s state mining tax?

        • “In 2018, mining paid $183 million in local and state government revenue”

          Yeah, that’ll fix the budget for sure. Add in Pebble and it would still be peanuts.

          • Close to 2/3 of the workers are Alaska residents, and they spend most of their paychecks here.
            There’s several new mines coming into production soon, which could more than triple that 183m tax revenue.
            Don’t forget all the little mom &pop enterprises made possible by those big paychecks.

    • Get out the tin foil for JOSEPHDJ. Make one of those tin foil hats in his size and have him wear it proudly.
      Where do we find this guys?

      • A personal attack is the best you can do?

        • Just to add: How did I, with my tinfoil hat and all, know exactly when to sell my shares in Pebble?
          Why is it you didn’t know, nor will ever know?
          Maybe the answer is that you’re so certain that you’re really smart, that you don’t think to question your presumptions?

  • Senator Dan “Spineless” Sullivan must be absolutely thrilled with this result. Now he can go back to the most-exclusive club in the world, feel important and do favors for his cronies from Harvard and Georgetown. I doubt he could locate Muldoon Road without a map and a local guide.

  • The Bristol Bay region is decrepit and poor. Looks like it is going to stay that way.

  • Trump the anti-development lame duck, guess we get what we vote for.

  • This process has been corrupted by the left. I am from the area, grew up in the fishing industry and see how economically depressed the region is. I do not think this process is over. For you in Western Alaska who vote for Democrats or RINO Republicans, this is the result. I don’t think this is over despite the nonsense from the LEFT.

    Our country needs the minerals, the State needs the revenue and the region needs a boost in the economy.

    This is surely a political decision based on the Election which I believe will result in President Trump serving for another term. If this surprises you, stop watching mainstream media.

  • Pretty funny, actually. Collier’s over his head actions were the icing.

    • Collier was, is and will always be a nut job. Why anyone took him even a little bit seriously is a question all of us should be asking.

  • Mankind does not determine where critically-needed resources are located; only God does so. Copper is a critical strategic resource; an urgent need that must be fulfilled immediately. If we don’t allow this mine to be developed then we will beholden to the whims of foreign sources. Our nation is diminished accordingly. Every American will pay a price… regardless of how hidden it may be.

    As to this matter, Donald Trump Jr is a traitor to his nation.

  • Looks like the Girls at the Corps looked at election returns and decided they wanted to continue to have a job after Jan 20. Cheers –

    • ACoE is military. Can’t fire them, only court martial. They’re not worried about losing their jobs, it’s their budget that’s at risk of taking a hit.
      Murkowski holds considerable influence over their purse strings, but she has no line-item veto authority, to withhold funds, targeting a particular issue.
      ACoE’s denying Pebbles permit served to get the extractive resource industry up in arms. Push-back is going to be heavy, and has started already.

  • In an August 24 press release, NAK and Pebble Limited Partnership said that the USACE’s mitigation requests were not unusual and even expected, and that the company was well on its way towards completing a final comprehensive mitigation plan. They told the public they “believe their submission will be submitted within weeks and will satisfy all of the requirement in the letter.”
    [https://www.northerndynastyminerals.com/site/assets/files/4855/2020-08-24-nr2-ndm.pdf]

    In August media stories, the public was led to believe that NAK/Pebble Partnership were working with USACE and confident all was well. We were told they expected little or no delay in the issuance of the ROD.
    [https://www.miningnewsnorth.com/story/2020/08/28/news/pebble-mine-death-grossly-exaggerated/6415.html]
    [https://mustreadalaska.com/collier-says-pebble-project-will-do-environmental-work-needed-for-permit]

    Then, months went by with no communications from the company to the public or investors. Finally, the USACE’s November 9th Memorandum for the Record written by South Section Chief Calvin Alvarez, revealed that Pebble Limited Partnership had not submitted a Final Compensatory Mitigation Plan until November 4, 2020. This was after the Presidential election and more than three months after they’d told the public they anticipated filing it within weeks. NAK/Pebble Partnership issued a press release on November 16 saying they’d just submitted a compensatory mitigation plan.

    The public and investors have been left in the dark and are struggling. The company has failed to provide enough information to those whose lives and livelihoods are invested in the outcome of this mine for them to have faith in the company. NAK and Pebble Limited Partnership have not been open and transparent about what has been going on and have not explained the months’ delay in submitting a mitigation plan. The public, Alaskans and the citizens of North America, and investors deserve to know.

    * USACE documents here: https://pebbleprojecteis.com/files/20201120_Pebble_Project_ROD_Files.zip
    The USACE issued its ROD decision on November 20, denying the ROD stating “the proposed discharge does not comply with the 404 (b)(1) guidelines. In addition, the proposed project is contrary to the public interest.”

  • Bless your hearts, you actually think Pebble would have changed the economic fortunes of Bristol Bay? LMFAO……By that logic, Kotzebue should be a thriving metropolis. Got bad news for you, libertarians: Anchorage, the commercial heart of Alaska, wasn’t built by good old-fashioned bootstrap capitalism, but by massive government subsidy: railroad, port, highways, power grid, international airport, military bases, Matsu farm program, etc. etc. etc…..

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