Bristol Bay in the News: November 21, 2013
Earlier this week, Anchorage TV station KTUU ran a lengthy feature piece on the battle over the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. Despite Anglo American's recent announcement that it will leave the Pebble Limited Partnership and amid growing opposition to the project in Alaska, representatives from Northern Dynasty Minerals made it clear that the company intends to move forward with the project and has investors interested in joining the parternship.
In a statement provided to KTUU, the EPA made clear what’s at stake in Bristol Bay, saying “…mining could harm habitat and crate large quantities of waste that would have to be managed indefinitely.”
The Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s CEO Jason Metrokin summed up what’s at stake for Bristol Bay and its people when he said “We shouldn’t think for a minute that the proposed Pebble Mine project is the answer to people’s prayers when it comes to jobs and diversification of the economy. The threat, in our mind, overshadows these opportunities.”
Elsewhere in Alaska, Cameron Byrnes authored an op ed in the Juneau Empire that comes to a very simple and apt conclusion: “Once the Pebble mine starts there is no turning back. Once the toxic tailings are created, you can’t change your mind if things aren’t working out right.”
In the Bristol Bay Times, Carey Restino writes about some of the recent developments in the campaign to protect Bristol Bay, including the formation of Bristol Bay United. Just because Anglo American is leaving the Pebble Limited Partnership doesn’t mean the fight is over.
And in Anchorage, Bristol Bay champion and former Republican State Senate President Rick Halford is quoted in response to the state’s decision to abandon plans for public meetings on HB 77, which would attempt to remove the public’s ability to apply for water rights and also limit the public’s right to challenge state permitting decisions.
You can read these stories and others in this week’s Bristol Bay in the News.
Executive Director, Bristol Bay United
Pebble's Lone Investor Remains Optimistic Despite Challenges
By Mallory Peebles
For more than 2 months The Pebble Partnership has been operating with only one investor following Anglo American’s Sept. 16 withdrawal.
"Since that time we've really been evaluating how we'll move the Pebble project forward and losing a major partner is a major challenge," said Sean Magee, spokesman for Northern Dynasty Minerals. "On the flip side Northern Dynasty woke up on September 16 as 100 percent owner of one of the world’s largest mineral deposits."
Northern Dynasty Minerals officials note the company is actively looking for an additional investor for the billion-dollar mining project but remains confident that it can move the project forward through 2014 on its own financial standings… click here to read more/watch video.
Missing the point on Pebble Mine
By Cameron Byrnes
The Juneau Empire
We have to stop thinking short-term on things that will affect the future. Once the Pebble mine starts there is no turning back. Once the toxic tailings are created, you can’t change your mind if things aren’t working out right.
What’s my dream for the Pebble Mine? I hope the company wakes up one day, realizes the terrible thing they are about to inflict on Alaska, apologizes to all of us who live here, cleans up their mess and goes away… click here to read more.
Pebble debate rages on
By Carey Restino
The Bristol Bay Times
Only weeks after the announcement that Anglo American had pulled out of the Pebble Partnership, with some in the state predicting the mine plans were all but sunk, the anti-Pebble mine contingent continues to push on.
A new coalition was announced last week to "demand action from the Obama Administration and elect officials to stop the Pebble Mine and protect Alaska's jobs and way of life."
The partnership — Bristol Bay United — identifies itself as a diverse coalition consisting of Tim Bristol, Alaska State Director for Trout Unlimited, Jason Metrokin, CEO of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
The group began a series of television ads highlighting Alaska Natives, sportsmen, fishermen and retired Alaska elected officials… click here to read more.
DNR Calls Off Public Meetings For Permitting Bill
By Alexandra Gutierrez
Alaska Public Radio Network
HB 77 has provisions that limit who can appeal DNR’s decisions, and it only allows public entities to apply for water reservations. (For those not immersed in environmental politics, a water reservation guarantees a certain level of flow for a given stream or river, and the objective is usually to conserve fish habitat.) That means that individuals, non-profits, and even tribal groups would no longer be able to ask for that protection from the state. The bill also gives the commissioner power to issue general permits — which don’t need public notice — to projects, so long as the project is unlikely to cause “significant and irreparable harm” to the land.
Because so much of HB 77 deals with the public process, those meetings have taken on a symbolic importance to people with concerns about the legislation. Rick Halford is one of those people. Halford is a Republican who served in the Alaska Legislature for two decades, and he’s been a vocal opponent of Pebble Mine since retiring from public life. He doesn’t like HB 77 as it’s written, and he thinks the state should be coming to affected communities to explain why it’s needed… click here to read more.
Pebble Mine: It's Really About People
NRDC – Taryn Kiekow’s Blog
Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively will speak at the Alaska Resource Development Council’s annual conference this Thursday in Anchorage. The title of his talk is “It’s Really About People.”
Really? But the people of Bristol Bay have already spoken, time and time again, and they’ve expressed adamant opposition to Pebble Mine – a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery; salmon are not only the economic but also the cultural lifeblood of the region. The behemoth open-pit mine generating 10 billion tons of mining waste would inevitably compromise this vital resource… click here to read more.
Miners say Anglo American departure casts pall on all of Alaska industry
By Yereth Rosen
"It’s not about mining. It’s the location,” said Anders Gustafson, executive director of the Renewable Resources Coalition, one of the most visible opponents of the Pebble project. “We’re not against mining. We’re trying to protect this renewable resource.”
Pebble’s demise, if it becomes final, could be a good thing for the Alaska mining industry, he argued. That mine was potentially a “bad apple in a good industry” that could spoil the climate for other mines, and Anglo American’s decision was a wise choice about something that was ultimately a bad business plan, he said.
Mining is not the only industry with investment decisions to make about Southwest Alaska, Gustafson said. He predicted that new money will flow into the region if EPA follows its ongoing Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment with new and permanent protections for the region and it becomes clear that Pebble will not happen.
“As the coffin gets nailed gather and tighter ... you’re going to have the certainty for the fishing industry and the tourism industry,” he said.
Even some of the Pebble supporters at the miners’ convention tacitly acknowledged that the project carries a stigma… click here to read more.
Sockeye Photo - Ken Morrish Flywater Travel