Pebble files permit application
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Pebble files permit application

Update: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers posted the proposed Pebble mine permit application on Jan. 5, 2018. The document again demonstrates that Northern Dynasty, the Canadian company behind Pebble Limited Partnership, continues to use its PR machine to make its mine seem “small” and “safe” when all the peer-reviewed science proves otherwise. The mine proposed in the application is in no way small; it’s an over 1 billion-ton mine in terms of material produced. More to the point, Bristol Bay is no place for a mine. Of any size. Period. 

“Pebble’s permit application looks exactly like we thought it would,” said Myrtice Evalt, Interim Executive Director for Nunamta Aulukestai, a coalition of Alaska Native Village Corporations and tribes in the Bristol Bay region. “It proposes a mine that will devastate our culture, our salmon runs, and our communities. The EPA’s own reports, and all the peer-reviewed science that backs them up, conclude what we who live here–and whose ancestors have lived her for thousands of years—already know. Bristol Bay is no place for a mine. Period.”

Pebble files permit application for mine threatening wild salmon

Photo by Carl Johnson

What lump of coal did a Canadian mining company drop into Bristol Bay’s stocking right before Christmas? A permit application to plunk a proposed copper mine in a watershed that supports the economic and cultural health of the region. Groups representing the people of Bristol Bay put out a press release and sent a letter to the company CEO in response. In it, they remind the company of what it hopes to ignore and sweep under the rug–that science and public input show that the proposed mine endangers the region’s communities and wildlife.

The proposed Pebble mine has menaced residents of Bristol Bay for over a decade. Trustees was in the fight from the beginning, holding Pebble and agencies to account.

We maintain a vigilant, active involvement in every legal process for the proposed mine—and when necessary, we go to court.

We are steadfast in our resolve and will continue to fight. Today, Dec. 22, Pebble submitted its Clean Water Act application with the Army Corps of Engineers. With the application submitted, our lawyers will roll up their sleeves and pour over Pebble’s proposal with a fine-tooth comb. We will challenge any inaccuracies and inconsistencies. We will demand adherence to the best science, public process, and compliance with the law.

Promises, promises

Photo by Carl Johnson

Pebble Limited Partnership, the Alaska incarnation of Northern Dynasty Minerals, promised to submit a permit years ago, and every year thereafter. When it failed to do so, local communities sought protections for their livelihoods, food sources, cultures and ways of life.

Local tribes were the first to request that the Environmental Protection Agency assess the science, the importance of the natural resources, and responsibly determine the Clean Water Act protections necessary for Bristol Bay.

The people of Bristol Bay learned quickly that they cannot trust Pebble; the company harassed people who opposed the mine, and now wants to buy their support.

Truth is, big mining companies seek profits and will do anything to get what they want, including making promises they can’t keep. They not only exploit the land and water, but also families and communities. They destroy delicate social and environmental balances and economies. They make promises that do not pan out, destroying communities and livelihoods along the way.

A bunch of spawning salmon. Emily's relatives rely on subsistence fishing and hunting.

Photo By Carol Ann Woody.

The people of Bristol Bay know better than to buy a sales pitch. Their wealth comes from taking care of wild salmon, an enduring food source that also fuels jobs in commercial fishing, recreation and tourism.

Accelerating the permit process

With a federal administration that takes its directions from industry in charge, Northern Dynasty wants to capitalize on shortsighted political deals to steamroll through the permitting process.

We will keep watch. We will defend the laws and protections in place, and make sure the public has a say.

In the end, the people and animals closest to big industry developments pay the biggest price when industry makes promises and assurances it cannot or will not keep. But all Alaskans will pay the price if we lose sight of the social, cultural, and economic importance of wild Alaska salmon–and the industry sectors, communities and people it supports.

It’s the wrong place. Period.

More than 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents and hundreds of businesses oppose the proposed mine. Over a million people, including 26,000 Alaskans, provided comments in support of protections for Bristol Bay during the most recent comment period.

Why? Because peer-reviewed science shows that mining would be catastrophic to Bristol Bay’s fisheries and wildlife. The region supports one of the last great wild salmon fisheries in the world, and produces more sockeye salmon than any other place on earth.

It’s a place for fishing, not mining. It always has been, and always will be.