ANCHORAGE, AK – A dozen videos released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) unequivocally confirm what Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen and others have said all along – the proposed Pebble Mine is a lie and the permitting analysis is fatally flawed. The ‘Pebble Tapes’ produced by EIA clearly show that the Pebble Mine development will not be a 20-year project. Instead, it is just the first step towards a massive mining district planned for western Alaska over the course of the next two centuries.
The tapes directly call into question the company’s permit application, which sought authority to build a mine with a “[p]roject operating life of 20 years,” as well as written testimony from Tom Collier, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP), submitted to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment in October 2019, stating that Pebble has “no current plans…for expansion.” The ‘Pebble Tapes’ make clear that Pebble’s plans extend far beyond – even centuries beyond – the project described in its application.
“The ‘Pebble Tapes’ completely contradict the scope of the proposed Pebble Mine project reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and underscore the lack of consideration given to foreseeable, cumulative environmental impacts – an aspect that the Army Corps is required to evaluate. This is one of many fatal flaws in a permitting analysis that stakeholders were promised would be rigorous and objective,” said Andy Wink, Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA). “Given the content of the ‘Pebble Tapes’ and the many problems with the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), it is clear that a permit should not be issued for this mine. Not now and not ever.”
Despite the claims of Pebble executives to potential investors, this is also the conclusion of Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who have both repeatedly said they do not think a permit should be issued. The Trump Administration and U.S. Army recently took a step in the right direction by acknowledging that the Pebble mine, even as proposed, “would likely result in significant degradation of the environment.” Given the statements in the ‘Pebble Tapes,’ the degradation will be exponentially worse. The Army Corps now has no choice but to deny this permit.
“These tapes make it clear that Pebble executives have not been straight with regulators, Congress, local residents, and even to investors in misrepresenting their sway with Alaska senators,” said Wink. “But these videos also uncover an important truth: this permitting process is flawed, if not entirely corrupt, and warrants a formal inquiry. We are hopeful that our elected and administrative officials will act swiftly to restore faith in both the process and themselves.”
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is a trade group representing over 8,000 commercial Bristol Bay salmon fishermen who hail from Alaska and 47 other U.S. states. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest wild salmon fishery.