Pebble comment period closes: 94,000 received - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019
HomeThe 907Pebble comment period closes: 94,000 received

Pebble comment period closes: 94,000 received

In what some may view as a drop in public interest, 94,363 comments were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the 120-day comment period for the draft environmental impact statement on the Pebble Project.

Among the comments was a petition from the World Wildlife Fund with 219,885 signatures on over 3,430 pages, which the Corps is evidently treating as one comment. The petition was begun in 2018. Indeed, most of the comments received were form letters prompted by Lower 48 environmental groups.

The comment window was originally 90 days, but at the request of Sen. Lisa Murkowski and others, the Army Corps the deadline it to July 1. 

The 94,000 comments is far less than the 1.1 million comments received for the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment produced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012-2013. In 2014, the EPA’s “proposed determination” received 614,000 comments, and the July 2017 notice by the EPA to withdraw the 2014 proposed determination received another 1 million comments.

Why the drop-off in comments for what is the most substantial environmental review to date is hard to gauge. But the Draft EIS received fewer than 10 percent of the comments of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, even though the comment period was extended.

The final environmental impact statement is expected to be released in 2020 and a record of decision would be announced later next year.

The Pebble Project is a proposed mine that opponents say will harm the watershed in Bristol Bay. It is located on State mining lands in Western Alaska that is a copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit.

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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

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Thank you for writing this article.
    Makes you kind of wonder what is really going on here, doesn’t it?,.and out of this 94K comments, how many are really recommending changes or actual improvements to the mine plan, as intended and requested, vs. just canned ROBO opinions, “Save the fish, don’t build the mine” type crap, ad nauseam, types of bitch comments? Maybe 15K or less? probably even less than that, maybe 5K? That would be interesting to find out.. With pressure being put on Murkowski, they pushed to extend to 270 days, with the real intent to delay the mine,, but ended up with 90, and by all appearances squandered the 30 day extension, with an extremely low number of comments, and with such a supposedly controversial mine that is “opposed by most Alaskans” according the the NRDC, “where’s the beef?” Could it be none of it actually exists, and it is nothing but smoke and mirrors created by a few of these ENGO organizations, like from actor Leo DiCaprio flying around in his private jet telling everyone to save the planet? Yea, it is starting to really look like something stinks here, and it isn’t the fish. How many comments did Donlin get during its DEIS period? I’ll bet it got somewhere in this neighborhood or a bit more, with a less controversial mine, that would also be interesting to know.

  • For all the hoopla about being home to the world’s biggest sockeye fishery and the capital of the most important extraction industry in the world since time immemorial, I wonder if anyone in the public comment period wondered why Dillingham is such a $#!¥ H@£€ of a town then.

    No one lives there because of Dillingham itself. Just ask any local. It is simply a gateway “town” to launch and process the pillage of fish and then call it good.

    Yet the roads, boat launches, schools, health care and other public infrastructure are in poor condition or poorly run, and the fishery itself does not turn a net profit to the state coffers or the permanent fund.

    Textbook case of a colonial extraction system, majority of profits and basically all of the resource shipped out of state – and the rest of us are supposed to worship this as if the Emperor has clothes on.

    Such a comment was probably not on a mass signature public comment card. Tough to do save the world fundraising by outside environmental interest groups with such an assessment.

  • State residents permit holders and quota owners only.

  • This particular comment period may have been the best one yet. Residents had a stronger say and were more prevalent during the comment period. Residents weren’t overwhelmed by the out of state persons and entities that have nothing to do with the state or the industry involved here. It may be the better path forward for the Pebble Project and the state residents.

  • I think the explanation lies in the different methods that EPA and the Corps (actually AECOM) use to count the comments. The EPA counts them all, whether they are form letters or signatures on petitions, which skews the results because the form letters and petitions are inevitably by anti-Pebble groups and of course are negative. AECOM, however, uses screening software to flag all comments with identical or substantially similar content and counts them as only one substantive comment.

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