Pebble gets its wish: An EIS that says it’s workable

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said that the Pebble Project is good to go for the next step of permitting.

It won’t be that easy of course. Although the long-awaited environmental impact statement said that if the mining project proceeds according to its plan, there will be no measurable impact on salmon in Bristol Bay or the commercial fishery, the ink is being placed on the lawsuits already.

“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,” said Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Project. “After an extensive, rigorous, and transparent review process the USACE has concluded the Pebble Project meets that mark.”

The project went through the same federal review process that has brought Alaskans decades of North Slope development and a host of other resource development projects that faced heavy resistance every step of the way but that now provide jobs and economic activity for thousands of Alaskans, he said.

The Natural Resource Defense Council issued its statement on Thursday, a full day before the release of the document:

“The analysis is full of gaps, deficiencies, and legal blunders. The Army Corps conducted a hasty review at breakneck speed and ignored the tribes, cooperating agencies, and other stakeholders who identified serious errors in the agency’s process,” the NRDC said, in part.

But Pebble is used to this type of attack.

“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,” Collier said.

“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,” he said, advising that he expects groups like the NRDC to challenge the process in court.

“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,” Collier said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy also issued a statement today:

“Today’s release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is only one step in a lengthy and complex regulatory process that will take place before any final determinations are made on the proposed Pebble Project. The Pebble Partnership has not even initiated the state permitting process and is not expected to do so until a Record of Decision is released by the Corps of Engineers later this year. When that happens, the Pebble Project will undergo a thorough, fact based analysis by the appropriate state agencies to determine if it meets Alaska’s high standards for environmental protection.”pebble

17 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still in favor of a flat tax, constitutionally protected for all oil, gas and minerals from super mines.

    The State has over a billion dollar deficit, yet super mines are tax free for five years and then only pay one percent.

    Proposition 1 is nothing more than a kangaroo Court to hang the oil industry.

    Time to flush the Juneau legislative toilet, the whole state is starting to stink.

  2. Well, first of all, the Army Corps of Engineers is stocked with bureaucrats. Military bureaucrats. So it comes as no surprise that, under the Trump regime, we would get this kind of decision.
    It’s no surprise that Tom Collier would laud this decision, since he stands to earn $12.5 million if the project should start digging dirt. That begs the question as to whom the lengthy misinformation campaign belongs. I’m not surprised he thinks the USACE has done a good job.
    The highly vaunted claims that the Alaska environmental permitting process is one of the most rigorous in the nation forgets that it is based upon the rational that permits will be issued unless a compelling reason exists to deny them The default is to issue the permit. Compelling reasons can be proffered by department staff, but the ultimate decision is made by one person, the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, an appointee of the governor.
    One must remember that mining contributes minescule (sic) amounts to the state coffers. It ain’t like oil. With Pebble, most of the money will go to the Canadian firm that will run the mine, with a relatively paltry amount to those who work at the mine. Not so much to you and me.
    Meanwhile, a huge tailings dam will start to accumulate its toxic cargo for shipment into Bristol Bay when the next big quake decides the dam should go away. That is, unless it first poisons the bay with seepage into ground water or surface runoff.
    I’m sure all these issues have been addressed by Mr. Collier in his very carefully and skillfully crafted permit applications, since it in his own $12.5 million interest to come up with the right facts, figures, and scenarios, but it would serve Alaskans well to know that no pyrite mine like this proposed one has ever not polluted its environment.
    Just ask people in Butte, Montana or Kellogg, Idaho. And if that’s not enough, don’t forget that Collier worked in the Clinton administration

    • Greg R, you may have some valid points but to state that Mr. Collier stands to earn a lot of money if the mine goes through proves he is giving out misinformation is a short-sighted leap. If you were to get a serious pay raise after working for 15 years in the same company, should we all suspect YOU were nefarious?
      It’s low hanging fruit and a small thinking strategy to pit the “rich against the poor” in your attempt to push an agenda. One party seems to delight in this in America. We aren’t the first to use this technique that any rich person likely got his fortune by being nefarious and stealing “from all you poor sincere people.” Recently, Venezuela. And Maduro certainly took from the rich and company owners and “gave to the poor” with the common folks cheering him on with approval. Now NO rich people run anything. Even the govt can’t run anything. Oh, and all the zoo animals have been eaten. But that’s just another one of those consequences when the “hate the rich” mindset fully runs its course. Older examples abound from Cuba to Russia to China.
      So, your attempt to smear Pebble’s Collier because he stands to make 12.5 million after 15 years of working the project is weak at best and shows your own agenda at worst. If he is nefarious, you must give more than, “He will make lots of money!”

  3. The citizens of Alaska should have a vote rather of not to allow this mine. Not the Governors choice or the legislators but a vote of the people. That should settle it once and for all

    • How many more Pebble votes do you want? We’ve had at least 3 statewide, the last one which you guys won. You remember, the one that gave the legislature the final say on it.

      You are proposing what Erdogan calls Streetcar Democracy. He defines it as something you ride until you get to where you are going (the single result you want), and then you get off.

      I can promise you yet another vote on Pebble WILL NOT be the last one, especially if you guys lose. Cheers –

  4. I find it interesting that during the core drilling process and assessment process, the people of the region were happy to get their piece of the tens of millions of dollars spent on the Pebble Project. Now that decades of oversight and investigation and tens of millions of more dollars spent, the mine is vilified and lied about by people that don’t live here and people that don’t understand gravity or hydrology. The benefits to the region and to the state would be immense and get our state back to it’s roots of mineral development. Hopefully, we will get back to being the type of people that can logically discuss projects and expenditures in the state in a fiscally responsible way. And build the long overdue railroad to Nome and Kotzebue.

  5. The proposed tailings dam design will be substantially different than Mount Polley Mine but lets just use a worse case scenario. In a nutshell, Pebble Project will not harm the fish.

  6. Permitting is just a technicality, once in operation they will do whatever they want and pay small fines for significant violations, it’s what the SOA and DEC have been fighting for many years at another large scale mine in AK…its not worth the impact to the environment and community!

  7. I am from the region and support this mine. This mining enterprise will be great for the local economy and benefit the State economy. As we have seen with other Alaska mining enterprises, I expect locals who want a full time job will likely have one. Let’s start mining and you others should stop whining.

  8. We need responsible mineral development, and rural Alaska needs industry, opportunity for small business and jobs to replace the suffocating and destructive cradle to grave dependency on government programs, instituted since the late 1970s.
    Pebble needs to move forward for our children and grandchildren. It’s time to ignore and end the grip of the outside so called “environmental green” interests which are operated like organized crime and are sponsored by foreign interests to sabotage American energy, manufacturing and economic stability. I’m also sick and tired of Alaska urban whites pontificating what is good for rural Alaska at the expense of local people.

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