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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will host public hearings this month and next on the environmental review for Pebble Limited Partnership’s proposed mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. In order to fast track Pebble’s permit, the USACE conducted a rushed environmental review and expects Bristol Bay residents and other stakeholders to provide input just one month after the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
The first of nine hearings will be held today in Naknek, where dozens of Bristol Bay residents, fishermen and stakeholders are expected to express to the USACE their concerns about the project and the USACE’s incomplete review, including many individuals traveling from communities where hearings are not being held. Meanwhile, Pebble executives plan to spend their time far away for the region; presenting their insincere mine plan in Juneau to the Alaska State House Resources Committee.
“This just goes to show where Pebble’s priorities really are: with politicians in Juneau rather than the people in Bristol Bay. More than a decade ago, Pebble told many of our Tribes that if we didn’t want a mine here, the company would abandon the project. But despite clear opposition, stated time and again, PLP continues to push this project forward,” said UTBB Board President Robert Heyano. “Back home in Bristol Bay, our people are going to be making it clear to Pebble and the Army Corps: this mine is not wanted, and the USACE did a sad job of assessing the mine’s impacts on our people, cultures and economies. It is time for our elected leaders to step in and stop the Corps from forcing this project through.”
The agency is holding seven public hearings in Bristol Bay and two in Southcentral Alaska as part of the national public comment period on the draft EIS open through May 30. Thousands of Alaskans have already submitted written comments detailing the major flaws in the draft EIS.
The USACE hearing schedule is as follows:
-March 25: Naknek; 3:30 – 7 p.m. at Bristol Bay Borough School.
-March 26: Kokhanok; 3:30 – 7 p.m. at the Old School/Bingo Hall.
-March 27: Newhalen; 3:30 – 7 p.m. at Newhalen School.
-March 28: Igiugig; 3:30 – 7 p.m. at Igiugig School.
-March 29: New Stuyahok; 1 – 5 p.m. at the CQ Building.
-April 8: Nondalton; 3:30 – 7 p.m. at the Community Center.
-April 9: Dillingham; 4 – 9 p.m. at Dillingham Elementary School.
-April 11: Homer; 4 – 9 p.m. at Homer High School.
-April 16: Anchorage; Noon – 8 p.m. at the Dena’ina Center.