Panel discussions on fish, wildlife and habitat, and much more related to the proposed Pebble copper, gold and molybdenum mine in Southwest Alaska are slated for early October in Anchorage.
They are being facilitated by the Colorado-based Keystone Center, which was hired by the Pebble Limited Partnership to convene a series of what are billed as independent science panels to review and evaluate data on the mine, Advocates of the mine remain firm in their stance that the massive project at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed can operate in harmony with the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Opponents say the mine stands to have adverse, possibly devastating effects on the habitat of this multi-million dollar fishery, which is critical to commercial, sport and subsistence interests.
The panel discussions come as the Environmental Protection Agency is evaluating its draft report, in the wake of much public comment, to determine whether large- scale mining at this location could damage the fishery.
Critics of the EPA study, mostly representing businesses involved in resource extraction in Alaska, have alleged that the EPA study was rushed, flawed and based only on a theoretical mine project. The EPA began its study at the request of a group of Bristol Bay residents, fishermen and conservationists.
Both sides have continued to argue their points in a steady stream of television ads.
The Pebble Limited Partnership also hired an international consulting firm, Knight Piesold, which assessed the EPA’s draft report as a fundamentally flawed document.
Alaska fisheries scientist Carol Ann Woody, who has extensive field experience in the Bristol Bay region, took a different stance. “My review of the Pebble Limited Partnership is they only released selected information and what they have released is hard to review because it is not in an acceptable format,” she said.
What the PLP needs to do is get its study published and that would involve peer review, she said.