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On March 1, 2019 the Army Corps of Engineers dropped their 1,400 page plan for Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, and gave the public 90 days to review it. This has all happened very quickly, and Alaskans are freaking out.
Back up. What’s Pebble Mine again?
Pebble Mine is a project wholly owned by Northern Dynasty, a Canadian mining company. In 2007, the company established Pebble Limited Partnership as a U.S.-based entity to represent its interests in developing Pebble Mine.
The trouble is...
Alaskans do not want this mine (in fact, 80%). This is significant, especially in a state that depends on mining as one of its largest industries.
That's because, though the Pebble deposit is one of the largest in the world, it contains less than one percent copper by volume, 1,700m below the ground. In other words, it requires massive amounts of toxic waste tailings - right at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay is a complex ecosystem and home to the largest salmon run in the world. Need a reminder or two or three of why mines and fish don’t mix? It's also home to over 15 native Alaskan tribes who have been there for literally millennia.
This is ringing a bell. Wasn't Pebble Mine stopped?
It was… until it wasn’t.
After the publishing of its three-year scientific assessment, the EPA used its highest power under the Clean Water Act to put a once-and-for-all end to Pebble Mine in July 2014. Pebble Limited Partnership, Northern Dynasty’s U.S.-based subsidiary, responded with a lawsuit against the EPA. The lawsuit was eventually overturned, but by that time the U.S. had a new administration, with a new EPA director, Scott Pruitt. You may remember the public outcry when Pruitt undid everything in a matter of hours, allowing Pebble Limited Partnership to proceed with its Pebble Mine permit application.
What’s happening now?
Pebble Mine is moving forward with the permitting process at lightning speed, and there’s not much in their way. To make matters worse, the governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, has appointed a dandy cast of characters to his administration, including a former lobbyist for Pebble Mine as the Director of Environmental Conservation.
This short but critical comment period, ending May 30, 2019, is the public’s last opportunity to weigh in and it’s battle cry time. Pebble Mine needs to know that we are watching, researching, raising our voices, and aren’t going down without a fight. Our comments and calls are crucial to protecting Bristol Bay’s ecosystem and livelihoods.