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DILLINGHAM, AK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wednesday released its draft Environmental Impact Statement for Pebble’s plan to build a mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The draft EIS ignores the major impacts to the region’s people, fishery and economy.
The USACE’s draft EIS should have thoroughly reviewed Pebble’s proposed plan, along with several options for developing the mine and potential impacts for each scenario, but with the USACE’s stated intention to make a final decision by 2020 – it is clear that this fast-tracked process is driven by politics rather than fair process and sound science.
The document released Wednesday has several major flaws, including an inaccurate premise that implies that there is need for mining in Bristol Bay, a lack of analysis of many of the mine’s potential impacts to local communities and an inadequate review of the project’s risks, including the following:
“The Draft EIS is further evidence that the process is rigged in Pebble’s favor. It is time for Senator Lisa Murkowski and other elected leaders to call for a stop in this process until the USACE is willing to conduct a thorough and fair review of the process,” said UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley. “The Army Corps’ review ignores the very real concerns about the changes and devastation Pebble would bring to our region, and is clearly the result a rushed process that has ignored local voices and ignores the existing science in the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment that shows how devastating this project would be in Bristol Bay. The people of Bristol Bay and all who depend on its pristine environment deserve to have the project fully vetted and their concerns considered within this process and it has been clear from the beginning of this process that isn’t happening and USACE will do whatever it takes to fast-track this permit for Pebble.”
A 90-day public comment period is expected to begin March 1, with hearings in several Bristol Bay communities. UTBB and other Bristol Bay organizations have called for a longer comment period to allow Bristol Bay residents and others more time to review the draft.