Pebble 'Impact Statement' lacking true impact

We are officially half way through the Army Corps of Engineers’ 90-day public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pebble Mine and it is clear that Alaskans are not impressed. Over the past several weeks I have witnessed firsthand the monumental opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine and truthful outrage over the weak permitting review process being dished out by the Army Corps of Engineers. It has been powerful. 

Earlier last month, the Army Corps concluded their circuit of public hearings on Pebble’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, which included seven hearings in the Bristol Bay region and two in Southcentral Alaska.  Alaskans made an undeniable splash at the public hearings with strong attendance from more than 1,650 people. Nearly 80 percent of testifiers expressed their opposition to the project and urged the Army Corps to reject Pebble’s permit application.  You, too, can tell the Army Corp to reject the Pebble Mine.  Submit your comment here

In a time of political polarity, the Pebble mine issue transcends partisan and identity politics. Trout Unlimited’s outreach, with the help of members, volunteers and sportfishing guides, has helped educate and collect comments among the Alaska sportfishing community.  

For more than a decade Alaskan anglers have accompanied Alaska native tribes, commercial fishermen and the people of Bristol Bay in fighting the Pebble Mine, a proposal from a Canadian mining company to build one of the largest open-pit gold and copper mines in the world directly in the heart of critical fish habitat for the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers, two of Alaska’s most productive salmon and notorious rainbow trout rivers.

In late February, the Army Corps of Engineers released its draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Pebble mine associated with the Pebble Partnership’s application for their 404 Wetlands Dredge & Fill Permit. The draft Environmental Impact Statement confirms much of the massive impacts to the pristine fish habitat of the region we have come to expect, but also overlooks numerous potential impacts of the project. Not included in the DEIS are inevitable expansion of the project, impacts to the economically critical commercial, sportfishing and wildlife viewing industries, dust resulting from mine operation, downstream effect of a catastrophic tailings dam failure and more. 

Bristol Bay rainbow. Photo: Pat Ford

For my fellow anglers following from afar, those who have had the good fortune to fish in wild rivers and streams of Bristol Bay, or those dreaming of their chance to chase wild salmon and trophy trout in an unspoiled wilderness, rest assured that Trout Unlimited, our partners, and supporters are making waves in the effort to save Bristol Bay from the unacceptable impact of short sighted, mega-mining for the benefit of all Alaskans, all who use salmon as a resource, and of course, the Pacific wild salmon that are fuel to the region’s culture and economy.  

If you haven’t already, please join us in protecting this world class fishery and critical resource – submit your comment to the Army Corps of Engineers TODAY

Jenny Weis is the communications director for TU’s Alaska Program. She lives and works in Anchorage.

By Jenny Weis.