Left-wing mega-funders target Alaska's natural resources - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Left-wing mega-funders target Alaska’s natural resources

By HAYDEN LUDWIG
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

In recent years, an Alaska mining project has garnered intense scrutiny from the Lower 48 in the shape of the environmental Left, which is desperate to kill it in the cradle. Should they succeed the consequences for Alaska—and the rest of the country—are dire.

The target is Pebble Mine, a mineral exploration project in southwest Alaska that’s been locked in intense legal battles for nearly fifteen years. Pebble has the potential to supply as much as 25 percent of the United States’ copper needs over the next century—a critical metal used in everything from refrigerators and smart phones to the electric cars and wind turbines so beloved by environmentalists.

In fact, copper is essential to electric vehicles; according to the Copper Development Association, up to 49 pounds of copper are used in the construction of petroleum-powered cars, whereas electric cars can require as much as 183 pounds of copper to build. And copper is even more valuable in the construction of wind and solar power sources, which couldn’t exist without the metal. Wind turbines, for example, are each built using some 800 pounds of copper.

Considering its value to the construction of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, one might expect left-wing groups to be the loudest voices in support of the Pebble project. After all, many of the environmentalist groups targeting the project are vocal supporters of the Green New Deal—you know, the one that mandates 100 percent renewable energy in the U.S. over the next decade.

But there’s little consistency from the “keep-it-in-the-ground” crowd, which happily demands renewable energy production while protesting the means to generate it.

Washington, D.C.-based mega-lobbying groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, aided by front groups for D.C. “dark money” funders, are all aligned against the project.

As usual, hysterics rule the day. The NRDC has claimed the mine would pit an “eternal supply of food against an eternal supply of poison,” absurdly casting Pebble as a scheme by money-grubbing miners to pump toxics into Bristol Bay.

Bizarrely, the League of Conservation Voters even painted the mine as an insidious effort by “foreign mining companies” to intentionally pollute Alaskan waters. (Pebble’s primary backer is based in Canada, our friendly neighbors to the north).

The Left has coalesced its efforts to halt Pebble around the so-called “Save Bristol Bay” campaign, which alleges that Pebble will destroy the venerable salmon fishing industry. But Save Bristol Bay isn’t even headquartered in Alaska; it’s a front for Trout Unlimited, a D.C.-based group run by radical eco-activists masquerading as “conservationists.”

Trout Unlimited is a classic decoy funded by left-wing mega-foundations to fool viewers and the gullible media into thinking it’s a sportsmen’s group. The group was founded in the 1950s by conservation-minded fishermen, but it’s since been taken over by liberals closely connected to the professional Left. The group is led by Chris Wood, a member of President Barack Obama’s 2008 transition team.

Despite its outward appearance, Trout Unlimited is, in fact, little different from groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, pushing radical global warming policies such as an economy-wrecking carbon tax.

And little wonder. Trout Unlimited has received tens of millions of dollars from the Nature Conservancy and the GatesHewlett, and Wyss Foundations, which also fund the radicals pushing population control, abortion-on-demandglobal warming, and anti-Trump causes.

As I recently wrote, the Save Bristol Bay campaign is being waged alongside SalmonState, another front for Beltway cash. SalmonState is a “pop-up” group—eco-activism in the form of a website made to look like a real nonprofit.

But SalmonState is just one of hundreds of phony “pop-up” groups run by the D.C. consulting firm Arabella Advisors through its network of shadowy “dark money” nonprofits.

Arabella’s model is the ultimate form of “Astroturfing”—fake grassroots activism. And it’s huge; in 2017 alone, the Arabella empire brought in nearly $582 million which it used to push leftist policies in healthcare, gun control, and climate change. (My group, the Capital Research Center, recently mapped the reaches of the Arabella network in our exposé Big Money in Dark Shadows.)

And like Trout Unlimited, none of that activism would be possible without the steady stream of money coming from liberal foundations, almost all of which are headquartered in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.

Does that sound like local “conservationism” to you?

Pebble Mine brings Alaska to an important crossroads. It’s an opportunity to tap into The Last Frontier’s vast abundance, bringing much-needed prosperity to the state as well as American mineral independence from countries like communist China. But it’s a decision Alaskans—not wealthy Beltway activists—need to make.

Hayden Ludwig is an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.

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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

  • Great article!

  • This is completely unpersuasive. It spends most of its time/energy deriding ‘evil leftist’ organizations and no time at all exploring whether Pebble Mine will, indeed, pose harm to the salmon fishery. The fact that scores of local fisherman showed up in Dillingham to strenuously object to the project when the EPA came to town a few weeks ago somehow isn’t mentioned here, nor are any of the specific concerns of the many groups opposed to the Mine. The attempt to shame environmentalists by saying they’re hypocrites for not wanting copper necessary to run ‘green energy’ is the kind of argument a smart eighth grader might employ.

    • Another Lefty on residual LSD. Bob’s comments bear-out the broken record playbook of attempting shame through supposed illogical conclusions. The ONLY conclusion you need in ANY argument with a psychotic Lefty is this one:

      TRUMP MADE THEM DO IT.

    • Bob, the Army Corps released the full draft report that covers this. There is no reason to cover it again in an article.
      Please cite 1 thing from the draft that you have an issue with that you think isn’t fair or isn’t from an engineering perspective, sound.
      The articles touches on our current need for copper LOCALLY. It is NEEDED right NOW. To achieve the climate action plans we need these metals to build our renewable infrastructure.
      The fact that local fisherman who have jobs are trying to shut out their fellow citizens who DIDNT get a fishing licenses from getting jobs is probably the most selfish thing I have ever heard.
      The other fact is, if you have been paying attention none of these fishermen have yet to come up with a scientifically valid point. Period. They are blindly triny gto stomp the mine out simply because it is what it is, a mine.
      The tailings will be capped and dealt with in a much more environmentally friendly way than other mines. Im tired of dealing with people who clearly haven’t even read the draft and are just going on instinct. Screw you and your “feelings” sally.

  • Actually Bob, science shows there is virtually no risk. 100+ miles away. Can only potentially impact 2 out of 35,000 streams.

    Bob, you are incredibly deranged. Please seek help.

    • What’s your ‘scientific’ source? Read this:
      https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/bristol_bay_assessment_final_2014_es.pdf Specifically, pgs 10-19. What’s with the name calling?

      • How is that a scientific source? It’s based on a myth mine made up to do just that stop the project in its tracks. Try reading these, which are based on an actual mine plan: https://pebbleprojecteis.com/

      • You really should educated yourself on this issue and the entire story behind it Bob. Your clear bias and ignorance on the matter are showing when you cite the flawed corrupt 2014 EPA assessment as the standing point of your argument and cite it as science.

        If you want actual science go read the DEIS.

        https://capitalresearch.org/article/one-gold-into-dross/

        • Ryan – this article isn’t ‘science’ at all. It’s ideological fingerpointing and accusation from a conservative think tank dedicated to undoing environmentalist positions and furthering corporate interests. Where’s the reputable science that says Pebble is a reasonable risk worth taking, all considered?

          • THE DEIS – AND IF YOU DON”T KNOW THAT THE SURVEY WAS ALREADY DONE AND HAVE NOT READ IT YOU REALLY SHOULD LEAVE.

          • Bob, science conclusions in today’s world are being referred to as quasi, or fake science. Born unto political expediency, science when mixed with resource development issues, is an invitation to inherently illogical conclusions. eg. Man-made climate change. All science is now referenced to this conclusion. And this conclusion will be challenged EVERY TIME.

      • As one of the thousands of people fishing Bristol Bay and having grown up in Dillingham, Bob’s is the only voice of reason in these comments, so far. Most of us aren’t against mining, but this mega mine WILL decimate Bristol Bay, Lake Iliamna and the McNeil River. It’s foolishness to consider this project in a seismically active wetland.

  • Suzanne, this article is beneath you. I’ve read many of your articles and none have been this blatantly right wing extremist material. I can tell you didn’t write it although some readers may not notice since it says “written by” you.
    The language is all so inflammatory and biased. Reading this, a person would think that no Alaskans oppose the mine and that’s just untrue. There is plenty of well documented evidence that huge mining operations like this one cannot be maintained safely along side our largest salmon habitat in the state.
    Please consider finding a writer who can present an unbiased look at the pros and cons of the Pebble Development. This would enlighten all of us on this crucial issue. Thanks.

    • Environmentalists have all the cons, but unsupported by real facts, and empirical logic. Their tactic is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
      FUD can be a two-way street – there’s a group of investors who are thinking about fighting FUD with FUD. Their proposed public relations campaign would be to promote the presence of Fukushima radiation in Alaska’s waters and sea-foods.
      If the Japanese public becomes alarmed , the BB fishery could lose a great share of it’s market.
      The Environs have gotten a lot of donations out of the Pebble mine issue. When that becomes yesterday’s issue, forgotten to history, the Fukushima radiation fears will still be hanging over BB.
      So, to all those Seattle fishermen supporting the environmentalists campaign against Pebble – be careful about supporting the “No Pebble” spitting match. The law of unintended consequences!

    • ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait, scientists said on Wednesday. March 27, 2019 / 8:37 PM / 3 months ago

  • You complain about non-Alaskans being involved, yet this piece was written by Hayden Ludwig an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.! Oh yeah, the CRC is funded by the Koch brothers. This decision should REALLY be in the hands of Alaskans.

    • It has been, latest defeat of Save the Salmon ballot shows what the majority of Alaskans want/need in their state. One research center paper vs everything the opposition has produced? Please.

  • Feed the wingnuts a little radiation. See how that goes in their crusade to “save Bristol Bay”. I would wager that, maybe one out of several hundred, or thousand “environmentalists” have ever been to Bristol Bay. Of course, except for the out of state salmon fishing permit holders. Con some original native salmon fishing permit holder out of ‘their’ permit, show up for about six weeks during the salmon run in Alaska, leave with the tax free money, and spend the rest of the year trashing Alaskans who want security and year round jobs. Most of the natives sold their permits for a pittance, compared to the actual worth. Try and buy one from an ‘out of state’ con artist and see how that goes. The entire BS propaganda about Pebble is not aimed, in any shape, form or fashion, at protecting anything Alaskan. All they care about is their tax free gravy train. Other than that, Alaska might as well be on mars, to them. Follow the money. That should tell anyone who cares, the real story. Nearly all the idiots protesting Pebble don’t really know what they’re protesting, except what the “money” tells them. No research by them, just a loud mouth with a large dose of “gimme” and an equal amount of lies coming from it.

  • Thank you once again Suzanne for writing a spot on article. The outside special interest group that clamor on and on about clean green energy fail to realize those mineral gotta come from somewhere. AK has tons of them and yet they rake in millions of dollar of DONATIONS to try and convince people not here, now ever. The problem is their argument is based on a non existent mine study, BBWA which is not what Pebble ever submitted. Over 800 million dollars has been invested in this project so far, with real data, real science, real engineering professionals, and a real NEPA process that shows NO HARM TO FISHERIES in the DEIS. Those are facts but the continued special interest group want to argue with lies and feelings that this cannot be done safely.
    I’m proud of the ACOE and AECOM for a rigorous process they have put forth and look forward to law makers that look past the rhetoric and fud and permit a safe, responsible Mine. MINE PEBBLE!

  • Bob, the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) at p. 54 of the Executive Summary (ES) clearly states that the number of returning adult salmon to the Nushagak and Kvichak river systems would not be reduced by PLP’s proposed alternative. Most important, on the same page it is stated that there is expected to be no long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries of Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet caused by the Pebble project.

    The permanent loss of ~3,500 miles of wetlands and 80 miles of streams caused by Pebble in the context of the ~10,000 miles of documented streams, rivers, and lakes in the entire Bristol Bay watershed is only a very small fraction of the total. Estimates are that there are about 55,000 miles of salmon-bearing streams, etc. in the BB watershed, but most of that mileage has not been documented or “catalogued.”

  • Correction: I said above “, . . the permanent loss of ~3,500 miles of wetlands . . . “ That should read “. . . the permanent loss of ~3,500 acres of wetlands . . . .”

    • I read about 30 pgs. of the DEIS executive summary. It appears to be an exceedingly thorough document (much moreso than the 2014 EPA summary) whose general trajectory reenforces the world need for copper, increased oppty. for Alaskan employment and low risk of serious damage to the ecosystem and culture. On the other hand, it’s full of qualifications, frequently mentioning the possibility of long-term or permanent damage to environment and culture at, near or beyond mine site and along transportation/gas pipeline corridors. Worth the risks? Good luck with it.

  • Bob, I don’t see that it “frequently mentions the possibility of long-term or permanent damage to environment or culture,” etc. Could you cite a few pages where it says that?. It discusses the environmental risks at length but concludes that there will be no long-term risks to the commercial fisheries of Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet or to the subsistence life style of the Natives. That is crystal clear.

    In regard to the 2014 Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA), the EPA conducted no field work at Pebble whatsoever and virtually ignored PLP’s environmental baseline document (EBD) on which 150 million dollars were spent, the most money that has ever been spent on studying the existing environment of a project. They counted the fish in the three streams the project will affect over several years as well as measuring the stream flows, temperature, and water quality, etc. The EBD has over 22,000 pages of data in 53 chapters and was compiled from over 50 independent experts’ reports in various disciplines,

    • LITIG8:

      Pg. 29 – “Necessary ground-disturbing actions….involved with constructing/operating the mine….can destroy, remove or damage cultural resources. These type of direct effects can be irreversible.”

      29-30 – Rest of the pg. delineates more specifically documents the potential damage to historical/cultural resources.

      30 – “PM extended development scenario….potential impacts of cultural resources for 78 years.”

      30-31 – First paragraph – a list of potential negative effects on local communities including “habitat loss, fugitive dust deposits…..”

      31 – Paragraph 3 (middle) “…..In terms of duration, ……..”

      31 – Final paragraph, starting at “Overall,…….”

      32 – DEIS projects benefits to communities local to the mine site, but adds, “The loss of……” (see last paragraph).

      33 – A long list of potentially negative (and positive) impacts on local communities: “Other key adverse health outcomes considered are the potential for increased risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals…..These impacts could last through the life of the mine and beyond closure.”

      41 – Paragraph 3 “In terms of the extent, some wetlands …….Impacts would be permanent, lasting beyond the life of the project.”

      44 – “CUMULATIVE EFFECTS” – See paragraph 3

      49 – Entire page, specifically, final paragraph – “….direct/permanent loss of fishery.”

      62 – “The remaining 106 acres of highly impacted wetlands in not expected to recover” but……

      65 – suggests an expanded plan site with 12,000 negatively impacted acres of wetlands…

      There’s more, I’m sure. Whether these elements are small (minute, infinitesimally small) in relation to the benefits provided by the mine, the enormity of the watershed, etc. are things to be considered. But you asked for them, seeming to suggest they weren’t there. They are – ”crystal clear” – but, no doubt, as a “litig8tor”, you’ll find these points somehow debatable as evidence of ‘long-term or permanent risk’ worthy of consideration.

      There are parts of the ES that lean toward ‘optimism’ when it comes to construction, operation and potential accidents related to PM. If the mine gets built, one can only hope that ‘optimism’ plays out.

  • Here’s a letter from the American Fisheries Society – representing over 7500 scientists – calling out the significant scientific failings of the Pebble Draft EIS: https://fisheries.org/2019/06/afs-western-division-and-the-alaska-chapter-submit-joint-pebble-mine-comments/

    I’m sure some will find fault, but these folks are scientists, plain and simple.

    I’m also curious how much this blog gets from the Capital Research Center to take this Koch-funded, inside the Beltway stuff and deposit it in Alaska.

  • Bob, Thanks for taking the trouble to point out specifically your areas of concern regarding Pebble’s impact to the cultural resources and subsistence activities of the Natives.

    In response, I have some observations: As to destruction of cultural resources (p.29 of Executive Summary (ES), so far as I know there is no evidence that Pebble will significantly impact historical sites and prehistorical sites, but most of the information is kept confidential at the request of the Natives. The ES states on p. 30, “past and present actions that have or are currently affecting cultural resources within the EIS analysis area are minimal, having resulted in some site-specific loss and alteration of the character of cultural resources.” Any losses require mitigation by law.

    Regarding impacts to subsistence activities, the DEIS does state at pp. 30-31 of the ES, as you have pointed out, that there will be some, but “impacts to fish and wildlife would not be expected to impact harvest levels, because there would be no decrease in resources or abundance.” (paragraph 2, p.31). Again, whatever impacts to subsistence activities caused by Pebble would require, by law, to be mitigated.

    I’m not denying that Pebble will have no impact to the cultural resources of the Natives or that there will be no interference with berry picking or other subsistence activities, but the major subsistence activities—fishing and hunting—will not be affected as the DEIS states. Besides, what minimal impacts that Pebble does have on the cultural resources and subsistence activities of the Natives in the six local communities that Pebble will primarily affect will be more than offset by the jobs Pebble will provide to any local Native capable of working who wants one. Those jobs will enhance the subsistence activities because it will enable the Natives to buy rifles, ammunition, fishing gear, and 4-wheel drive vehicles to pursue those activities.

  • Bob Shavelson,

    I read this comment to the Corps by the American Fisheries Society and am nor impressed. Technical papers by Drs. Chambers, Wobus, and Schindler receive prominence, but Chambers’ and Wobus’ credibility are suspect because of their connections with Anne Maest, an admitted fraud.

    On January 27, 2011, Anne Maest and David Chambers at the behest of Trout Unlimited gave a briefing before 17 senior EPA officials at EPA headquarters on how to structure a document, later to be known as the BBWA, so as to kill Pebble. (see appendix to the William Cohen report on the EPA and Pebble.) Despite their assurances that the BBWA would not be used as a decision document, the EPA did use the BBWA as the pretext for imposing a preemptive veto, the Proposed Determination. The EPA had predetermined to kill the Pebble project before they received the petition from the Bristol Bay tribes in 2010. Phil North, an ecologist in the EPA’s aquatic resources unit, stationed at Soldatna on the Kenai, had been working on doing precisely that as early as 2005, as the transcripts of his sworn deposition reveals.

    Wobus knows Anne Maest and worked for the same firm as she, Stratus Corporation of Boulder, Colorado, at the same time that she was participating in the greatest environmental fraud in history, in which a corrupt Ecuadorian court awarded 18 billion USD against Chevron.

    And, by the way, the people at AECOM who are doing the EIS for the Corps are scientists too.

  • Bob Shavelson,

    This video reveals the machinations of Anne Maest, who authored several sections of the BBWA. Later, when her fraud on Chevron became known, the EPA removed her name from the list of references but left her work intact in the document:

    Phil North wrote the chapter on the imaginary mine in the BBWA, but he is not qualified. He is an ecologist, not a mining engineer.

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