Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Pebble DEIS Deadline Extended

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to extend the deadline for comments on its controversial draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the Pebble projects is seen as a small victory by some and an unfortunate event by others.

The extension adds 30 days to the original schedule and pushes the deadline to June 29, 2019, just as the statewide wild salmon fishery is under way, and on the cusp of an expected annual surge of sockeyes into Bristol Bay.

Fishing groups from Bristol Bay, Alaska Native corporations and area tribal groups, along with 20 members of the Alaska Legislature had initially asked for the comment period to be at least 270 days, but it will now be 120 days.

Former Alaska Senate President Rick Halford called the Corps’ decision “a 30-day extension of a very failed process is a small victory. They should start over with a real economic analysis of its feasibility, scientific proof of their proposal and objective analysis of alternatives, including the obvious conclusion that investors have made after hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits that the only option is to say ‘no’,” Halford said.

“While the decision is unfortunate, we are pleased it was for only 30 days,” said Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for the Pebble Limited Project in Anchorage. “This is a Corps process and their decision. This does push the comment period into June when most Alaskans are out enjoying summer.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged the Alaska District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on April 24 to extend the comment period from May 30 for another 30 days.

“After carefully reviewing the DEIS, I’ve concluded Alaskans need more time,” she said. “The Corps permit is one of many the proposed Pebble mine will ultimately need to acquire, but throughout this process I want Alaskans to have adequate time to review and weight in on the project,” she said.

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