Pebble Mine Environmental Impact Statement Sent To Agencies, Tribal Leaders

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed its initial final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pebble Mine but only released it to local agencies and tribal authorities.

KTUU has some details:

Sheila Newman, deputy chief of the Army Corps’ Alaska District Regulatory Division, said in a teleconference Tuesday that the preliminary EIS is not intended for public release, but has been distributed to cooperating agencies and Bristol Bay Tribes.

Some of those stakeholders voiced opposition to the project after the preliminary document was released to them Tuesday.

“The Army Corps’ preliminary final EIS falls short of the directive given by other cooperating agencies, Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski, and the rest of Congress,” said Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay Director Katherine Carscallen. “The preliminary final EIS is more of the same; this Administration’s priority is a purely political process that completely ignores well-documented science and the voices of Alaskans.”

The United Tribes of Bristol Bay sent out this press release after reading the EIS:

DILLINGHAM, AK – The latest environmental review of Pebble’s proposal to build a mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay makes it clear the Army Corps is ignoring not only local concerns about the project, but also refusing to heed Congressional and federal agency directives to do a more thorough analysis of the project’s impacts to Bristol Bay.

Last year, after state and federal agencies highlighted significant shortcomings in Pebble’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to address those deficiencies before producing a final Environmental Impact Statement. The preliminary Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) shows blatant disregard for that directive. It does not meet the standard set by lawmakers or scientists, and still grossly underestimates the risk Pebble poses in Bristol Bay.

The preliminary Final EIS provided to cooperating agencies and Tribes makes it clear that the agency is intent on a rushed process with a politically-determined outcome and will not conduct the comprehensive analysis of the mine that is expected, and legally required, in the permitting process. The near final review has not addressed myriad issues and data gaps cited by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other cooperating agencies.

“For two years, the Army Corps has refused to listen to the people of Bristol Bay. Now they’re refusing to listen to Congress, too. Enough is enough. This corrupt process must be stopped,” said UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley. “Senator Lisa Murkowski authored and passed language in last year’s budget bill demanding the Corps do more to address data gaps and agency-identified problems with the EIS.  This newest version shows a complete disregard for that directive.”

Throughout this process the Army Corps has put the interests of a foreign mining company ahead of the residents, fishermen and others who depend on this watershed for their livelihoods – now the Corps is blatantly ignoring Senator Murkowski’s demand for a more through process.

“The Army Corps has shown a complete disregard for the people and environment in Bristol Bay throughout the permitting process. It’s no surprise that their latest, and near-final, environmental review does so as well,” said Hurley. “Senator Murkowski now knows first-hand the brazen disregard our Tribes have been dealing with for the past several years. She must act now to stop this unaccountable agency.”