Anglers and fishing business owners urge comprehensive, thorough impact analysis and extended comment period.
ANCHORAGE, AK - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it will open a 30-day public comment period, beginning April 1, to collect input on the scope of its analysis of Pebble Limited Partnership’s mine plan. This is the first formal opportunity for the public to comment on the latest proposed mine plan, which was submitted to the Corps of Engineers last December.
“Limiting a comment period to just 30 days is not enough time for public input and participation, especially with inadequate application materials on the table. The Pebble Partnership is attempting to fool Alaskans by submitting an application that covers just the first phase of mine development,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director of Trout Unlimited. “A giant mine proposal slated for the heart of salmon country demands a thorough process with ample opportunity for public input and that encompasses the full picture of Pebble’s impacts, not just what is convenient for Pebble to release right now.”
The current permit application is limited to the Pebble Partnership’s plan to develop the first 1.2 billion tons of the nearly 11-billion-ton deposit, despite the fact that the Partnership has clearly signaled to potential funders its intention to build a much larger mine.
“Even this initial application for the first phase of the mine makes clear that the Pebble Partnership cannot protect clean water and salmon in Bristol Bay, or the landscape conditions that attract anglers from around the globe, if the mine is developed,” said Williams. “Pebble Mine would fundamentally alter a world-class fishery upon which family businesses and 37,000 recreational fishermen rely, and rivers that are slated to bring 60 million wild salmon to the region this year.”
The Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for three on-going permitting processes – the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline, the Nanashuk Project, and the Donlin Gold Project. For each of these projects, the initial comment periods ranged from 75 to 106 days.
Pebble is by far the largest mine ever proposed in Alaska and threatens catastrophic impacts to the headwaters of the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, yet the Corps of Engineers is offering a mere 30-day scoping period. This is the shortest of any active permitting process requiring an Environmental Impact Statement overseen by the Corps of Engineers in Alaska.
In December 2017, the Pebble Partnership filed a permit application to the Corps of Engineers with incomplete fisheries and water data and without proof of financial viability. The application contains plans to dredge and fill more than 4,000 acres of wetlands in the Bristol Bay region during initial development of the proposed Pebble mine. The mine and supporting facilities will run continuously for 20 years, according to the current plan.
Take Action: http://www.savebristolbay.org/take-action/.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with more than 100 angling businesses and thousands of individual sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org and savebristolbay.org.