May 31 was supposed to be the final day to submit public comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment, but that deadline has now been extended until June 30.
The Pebble Partnership, having poured millions of dollars into its promotion of the mine already, maintains it can build and operate the massive copper, gold and molybdenum prospect in harmony with Bristol Bay salmon fisheries, which provide annually for some 14,000 jobs and a $1.5 billion industry.
EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran, who is overseeing the review, said during a news conference in late April that the agency has not made a decision on if or how it might use its authority under the Clean Water Act, or other laws, to protect Bristol Bay. The watershed assessment process was begun in 2010 after several Alaska Native tribes petitioned the EPA to invoke Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to block mining on grounds that it would have an “unacceptable adverse impact” on area’s fish and wildlife habitat.
In its effort to shoot down the EPA’s revised draft assessment, Northern Dynasty Minerals, of Vancouver, British Columbia, filed a 205-page comment with the EPA on June 4, alleging that the draft report and process to complete it are “biased, manipulative and contrary to EPA’s own guidelines.” Northern Dynasty and the multinational mining conglomerate Anglo American, based on London, are the joint venture known as the Pebble Limited Partnership. They announced recently plans to spent another $80 million in 2013 on the Pebble project. The Pebble Partnership also released its own economic impact study on May 30, saying their project could bring an estimated $136 million to $180 million in annual taxes and royalties, and more to the state, plus more than 16,000 jobs nationwide during construction, including 5,000 jobs in Alaska, with an average annual wage of $63,500.
“We are astounded to see an economic report from the Pebble Partnership touting jobs on a ‘conceptual’ plan when the company has said repeatedly that it has no mine plan,” responded Bob Waldrop, of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
“Pebble CEO John Shively has said any analyses out there are based on a ‘fantasy mine plan,’ so that would make these fantasy jobs.
The EPA’s revised draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment is at www.epa.gov/bristolbay
Comments may be sent online, via email, fax or in a letter by June 30.
Submit online at www.regulations.gov Specify Docket #EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0189
Send email to ORD_Docket@epa.gov with EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0189 in the subject line.
Fax to 1-202-566-9744, with EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0189 in subject line
Send letters to:
Office of Environmental Information
US Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20460