Bristol Bay leaders outraged at inadequate review process for proposed Pebble Mine

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2018

CONTACT:

Norm Van Vactor, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., (907) 843-2508, norm@bbedc.com

Alannah Hurley, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, (907) 843-1633, ahurley@utbb.org

Bristol Bay leaders outraged at inadequate review process for proposed Pebble Mine

DILLINGHAM, AK – At the closing of the scoping period for the Pebble Limited Partnership’s federal permit application, Bristol Bay leaders today continued to express frustration with the fast-tracked review underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Though the USACE claims they have reviewed the permit for “completeness,” the application packet lacks even the most fundamental information needed to review to the Pebble Project, including: engineering designs for mine infrastructure that will industrialize the 80-square-mile area that currently supports salmon habitat for both the Nushagak and Kvichak drainages; baseline environmental data for major mine components including a lengthy road from Iliamna Lake to Amakdedori Bay on Cook Inlet; a water management plan detailing the volume of water to be used from the North Fork Koktuli, South Fork Koktuli and Upper Talarik Creek, and changes to water quality and temperature in those salmon streams.The absence of this critical information led several local organizations to directly request the USACE halt the environmental review process until regulators have a truly complete application to review. These local organizations received only form letters in response from the USACE, which meanwhile says it plans to publish a scoping report in July, and come out with a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) during the winter of 2019.During the public comment period on the scoping of the environmental review, thousands of Alaskans and Americans concerned about Bristol Bay submitted substantive comments about the incomplete application and mine plan, and detailed extensive concerns with the environmental review process so far.Statement of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. CEO Norm Van Vactor:The Bristol Bay commercial fishery supports tens of thousands of jobs and a billion dollars in annual economic activity. It is no place for what could become North America’s largest open pit mine. The Army Corps of Engineers’ scoping process has done nothing to change that view, nor change the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Bristol Bay fishermen and women and everyone who relies on the fishery. The Corps’ rushed process has created more questions than answers and further solidified the fact that the Pebble Mine cannot coexist with the abundant, valuable, and sustainable fish resource in Bristol Bay. If this severely flawed process moves forward, the Corps needs to start taking the concerns of the thousands of Alaskans who would be hurt by this mine seriously.Statement of Bristol Bay Native Association President Ralph Andersen:With First Quantum pulling out, Northern Dynasty has no funding source and no mining experience in Bristol Bay. Furthermore, they have proven over the past decade that they do not listen to the concerns of Bristol Bay. So far, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not adequately protecting the interests of the American public from this ill-conceived project, and instead seems to be doing everything it can to help the junior mining company limp across the finish line. But no matter what outsiders attempt to do, the people of Bristol Bay will remain united and steadfast in our opposition to this project.Statement of Bristol Bay Native Corporation CEO Jason Metrokin:The conclusion of the scoping process leaves us with even more questions about Pebble Mine than when it began nearly three months ago. We still do not know how Pebble Limited Partnership plans to mitigate Pebble Mine’s environmental damage – impacts the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment already determined to have unacceptable adverse impacts on our region. We still do not know if the mine is financially viable because Northern Dynasty Minerals has yet to analyze if its new mine plan even pencils out. We don’t even know final project design and size, since Pebble’s plans changed mid-scoping. And most importantly, Northern Dynasty Minerals has recently lost its biggest outside investor, creating serious questions about the financial health of a company seeking to build the largest open pit mine Alaska has ever seen and one whose waste will require treatment in perpetuity.The Army Corps of Engineers’ scoping process has done nothing to change our belief that Pebble Mine is, and always will be, the wrong mine in the wrong place. We urge the Army Corps of Engineers to demand concrete details from Pebble Limited Partnership, and to not fast track a mine that still has so many unanswered questions. Bristol Bay and the economy and way of life it supports are too important to risk to a mine like Pebble.Statement of Nunamta Aulukestai Interim Executive Director Myrtice Evalt:Bristol Bay’s health depends on the salmon. The overwhelming majority of Alaskans in Bristol Bay have spoken and submitted comments over and over, and now hundreds of thousands of people have spoken once more: We do not want this mine in Bristol Bay. We want our agencies to listen to us. We expect our leaders to heed our traditional knowledge and respect our rights to the food we eat, the water we depend on, and the way of life we have lived for centuries. The Army Corps has rushed this process every step of the way. We will hold them to account for thoroughly, carefully addressing our concerns and protecting Bristol Bay.Statement of United Tribes of Bristol Bay President Robert Heyano:Today our Tribes, joined by thousands of Alaskans, reiterated again that Bristol Bay is no place for mines like Pebble. This point is even more emphasized as our tribal members are actively participating in the commercial and subsistence fishing seasons – with the Nushagak commercial fishing district already topping one million fish harvested so far this year. The Army Corps’ artificially rushed process is that last thing our tribal fisherman need to be thinking about at this time of year. All fifteen Tribal Governments of UTBB reiterate their call to the Army Corps to stop this expedited review timeline and give this project the scrutiny it deserves.###The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation exists to promote economic growth and opportunities for Bristol Bay residents through sustainable use of the Bering Sea fisheries.Bristol Bay Native Association is the regional nonprofit tribal consortium service providerproviding social, economic, and educational opportunities to tribal members.Bristol Bay Native Corporation is a responsible Alaska Native investment corporation dedicated to the mission of “Enriching Our Native Way of Life.” Established through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, BBNC works to protect the land in Bristol Bay, celebrate the legacy of its people, and enhance the lives of its shareholders.Nunamta Aulukestai is a coalition of Alaska Native Village Corporations and tribes in the Bristol Bay region dedicated to protecting the Bristol Bay watershed from unsustainable development.The 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.

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