Dillingham, AK — Today, Senator Lisa Murkowski and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies issued a stern warning to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stating:
“The Committee notes that multiple Federal agencies commented to express their concerns that the DEIS is inadequate and does not meet the Army Corps’ obligations to thoroughly evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed project. The Committee shares the agencies’ concerns that the DEIS lacks certain critical information about the proposed project and related mitigation and therefore likely underestimates its potential risks and impacts. Sound science must guide Federal decision making and all gaps and deficiencies identified in comments from Federal agencies and other stakeholders, including Alaska Natives, must be fully addressed, even if that requires additional scientific study, data collection, and more comprehensive analysis of the project’s potential impacts”
“We want to thank Senator Murkowksi and the rest of the committee for taking positive steps towards ensuring sound science, transparency and the rule of law guide the Army Pebble EIS process. We have a long way to go, but this is solid progress,”
said Bristol Bay resident and commercial fisherman Robin Samuelsen. “What we have in the language coming out of that report today is a very clear directive that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should go back to the drawing board and adhere to the highest standard of scientific integrity as Pebble attempts to prove the unprovable — that they won’t harm our fishery. Decisions on something as important as the future of the world’s greatest salmon fishery should be done through an open, fair and scientific process — not a ten minute conversation on Air Force One.”
Fishermen around the state and country are grateful to the committee and Alaska’s Senior Senator Lisa Murkowski for taking this first step toward rectifying a permit review process that has been scarily insufficient since day one.
“We are just so thankful that Senator Murkowski, who has been so measured on this issue and has obviously been doing her homework has chosen to weigh in at this critical juncture. Hopefully, this is the first step in many that it will take to ensure a fair and science-based process that the fishermen of Bristol Bay and the American people will be able to trust,” said Mark Niver of Wasilla, who fished his xx season with his three sons in Bristol Bay this year.
“I just wrapped up one of the better seasons of my fishing career. Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery is stronger than ever,” added Kodiak resident and Bristol Bay fisherman Alexus Kwachka. “The integrity of this permitting process has, up until now, been compromised. I am grateful to Senator Lisa Murkowski for standing behind the EPA, Department of Interior and other scientific experts who have unquestionably concluded that the Pebble project would negatively impact Bristol Bay’s fisheries. The process has been corrupted and this statement and act of oversight from Senator Murkowski is totally appropriate and will hopefully restore integrity in the permit review process.”