The state of Alaska is asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to suspend its environmental impact statement (EIS) process for a massive mine proposed in Southwest Alaska by the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP).
Their concern, said Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott in a joint statement, is the potential adverse impact of the mine and related infrastructure on the multi-million-dollar fishery and area wildlife, as well as public access for fish harvesters, hunters, and recreationists.
“The Bristol Bay region is unique,” they wrote. “It supports the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world – supplying almost half of the global wild sockeye and sustaining over 10,000 jobs. For many communities in the region, abundant salmon runs, clean water, and ecologically intact landscapes provide more than a paycheck, they sustain a treasured way of life that has existed for generations.”
Their administration believes the review should not advance now because Pebble has not demonstrated to Alaskans that the proposed mine is feasible and realistic. In their letter to the Corps, Walker and Mallott noted that beyond the mine itself, the PLP’s plan calls for construction and operation of a port and associated infrastructure that has the potential to adversely impact coastal wildlife and marine mammals. Construction, dredging, and port operations are likely to impact shoreline habitats, intertidal and offshore resources, they said.
Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the PLP, disagreed, saying that Walker’s request to suspend the National Environmental Policy Act process nearly mirrored that brought forward by mine opponents. He said the PLP feels its technical and environmental work would meet the state’s standards for development.