DILLINGHAM, AK – Bristol Bay Tribes expressed disappointment and frustration that federal regulators appear to be fast-tracking the Pebble Limited Partnership’s application to build a toxic mine at the headwaters of the world-class salmon fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers recently stated review of the company’s permit application will begin with a historically brief 30-day public comment period on the scope of Pebble’s Environmental Impact statement (EIS), beginning April 1.
In scoping, the Corps determines what area and impacts it should analyze in its environmental review of Pebble’s project. Scoping periods for other large-scale development projects in Alaska – from the Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline and the Donlin Mine – have ranged from 75 to 106 days.
In response to the Corps’ announcement, Alannah Hurley, executive director at the United Tribes of Bristol Bay stated: “The proposed 30-day scoping period for a project the size of Pebble is absurd. Such a short time frame will ultimately exclude not only the people of Bristol Bay, but all Alaskans. We will not have a meaningful opportunity to engage and provide critical input on how we will be impacted by the Pebble Mine.”
The Corps’ proposed scoping period will have only six hearings in the Bristol Bay region, with only one of those hearings in the Nushagak drainage. The Corps is also planning to avoid public testimony in the major hubs of Dillingham, Homer and Anchorage; instead planning on private side-room testimony citing “timing” as a concern. Meanwhile, all other communities will be permitted public testimony. [xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]Said Hurley: “Now is the time for everyone who recognizes the importance of this region to take action to protect Bristol Bay and speak up in this process. We must demand a rigorous review that recognizes every possible impact and that includes allowing the public adequate time and opportunity to do so. The current Corps’ plan for public engagement in this process represents a total lack of due diligence by the agency.”
The environmental review for Pebble began last year, when the company submitted a Clean Water Act dredge and fill permit to the Corps. The permit application outlines plans for a mine and supporting infrastructure to develop the first 1.2 billion tons of its nearly 11-billion-ton deposit, over the course of 20 years. Review of the permit centers around preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. On the new Pebble EIS project website, the agency says it will conduct scoping this spring, draft the EIS in less than a year, and come to a final record of decision by early 2020 – making it one of the fastest EIS processes in recent memory.
United Tribes of Bristol Bay will be visiting communities throughout Bristol Bay to assist residents in engaging in this critical process and ensure our voices are heard. For more information on how you can testify at a hearing or take action call UTBB at (907) 842-1687 or email email@example.com.