Bristol Bay Leadership Demand Congressional Intervention as final Public Comment Period on Pebble Permit Ends

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Contact:
Alannah Hurley, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, (907) 843-1633
Norm Van Vactor, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., (907) 843-2508

Bristol Bay Leadership Demand Congressional Intervention as final Public Comment Period on Pebble Permit Ends

Koliganek residents stand by a July 28, 2019 bonfire to send an SOS to Alaska’s congressional leaders on Pebble. Subsistence, sport and commercial fishermen throughout Bristol Bay lit fires and flares to send a distress signal. Photo by Delores Larson

Koliganek residents stand by a July 28, 2019 bonfire to send an SOS to Alaska’s congressional leaders on Pebble. Subsistence, sport and commercial fishermen throughout Bristol Bay lit fires and flares to send a distress signal. Photo by Delores Larson




DILLINGHAM, AK – At the close of the final federal comment period on the Pebble mine’s permit, leaders from the region called on the Alaska Delegation to take a stand on what has proved a rushed, politically motivated process.  

During the brief comment period on Pebble’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), thousands of Bristol Bay residents, tens of thousands of Alaskans and hundreds of thousands of Americans weighed in, highlighting the many flaws in the document including extreme gaps in scientific data and inadequate assessment of the potentially devastating impacts to the fishery, waters, jobs, and Native cultures in the region.  

Nonetheless, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) appears intent on rushing the review at record breaking speed, with a roughly two-year timeline from application to final permit decision. The next step in the process is publication of a Final EIS and then a final permit decision in early 2020. The Army Corps’ expedited timeline would result in the fastest processed 404 permit for a project of Pebble’s size in history, a move the Tribes see as a rubber stamp for Pebble’s permit.

The end of the comment period comes at the heels of a major announcement from the Trump Administration last week indicating the EPA again will attempt to withdraw the Clean Water Act protections secured by regional leaders in 2014. As the original petitioners for the protections from EPA, Bristol Bay Tribes condemned EPA and pointed to the withdrawal as yet another example of the politicized and corrupt process to permit Pebble despite widespread opposition to the project on the federal record.

Bristol Bay leaders made the following statements:

“It’s time for our elected leaders like Sen. Lisa Murkowski to step in and say enough is enough. The people of Bristol Bay and the people of Alaska, who sent her to D.C., have waited years for her leadership on this issue. Pebble’s cards are all on the table now, and it’s clear that this project and this process ignore our voices and ignore the scientific reality that Pebble would devastate Bristol Bay. Senator Murkowski needs to stop playing political games and take a stand for her constituents instead of gambling with our future for the profit of a foreign mining company.  She has the opportunity to do the right thing for the people of Bristol Bay and all who care about the watershed’s future.”– United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley

 “From all of us in the Region, a big thank you to everyone who weighed in during this comment period to fight for Bristol Bay! Our fishery feeds the world, and we are seeing just how far it reaches as we pour through the comments and see wide-spread opposition to Pebble from across the country. Together, we will stop this mine from being built in America’s last great wild salmon streams. We expect our leadership in DC to stand with us as we will not relent until Pebble is gone for good.” -  Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation CEO Norm Van Vactor

“So far, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proven that they are not interested in real science showing how devastating this mine would be to our home, and they are not interested in the thousands of Alaskan voices opposing this toxic project. But the millions of Americans who stand with Bristol Bay in opposing this project will not be ignored. We’re looking for leadership from our federal delegation to protect our way of life, economies and our entire future here in Bristol Bay.” – Bristol Bay Native Association President and CEO Ralph Andersen

Drift fishermen in the Nushagak District light flares to send a distress signal about the proposed Pebble project on June 28, 2019. Photo by Misty Nielsen.

Drift fishermen in the Nushagak District light flares to send a distress signal about the proposed Pebble project on June 28, 2019. Photo by Misty Nielsen.

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Bristol Bay Native Association, represents 31 Bristol Bay tribes & is the regional nonprofit tribal consortium providing social, economic, and educational opportunities to tribal members.  
 
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation represents 17 CDQ communities & exists to promote economic growth and opportunities for Bristol Bay residents through sustainable use of the Bering Sea fisheries.   
 
United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena'ina, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.