United Tribes of Bristol Bay and SalmonState were among local Alaska organizations that received a copy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement that will recommend the green lighting the Pebble Partnership’s plan to construct a copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay region, home to one of the world’s most prolific salmon runs. Early this week the Army Corps stated it would release the final EIS document on Friday.
Here are some reactions to the EIS, which can be found here:
First: United Tribes of Bristol Bay:
DILLINGHAM, AK – Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released by mail a fundamentally-flawed final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Pebble Mine. The document ignores science and does nothing to address comments filed by tens of thousands of people who all know the truth: the proposed gold and copper mine will devastate Bristol Bay’s waters and its world-class fishery.
The draft environmental review by the Corps was universally criticized by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and other state and federal agencies; who all stated the cursory review was inadequate and drastically underestimated the impacts of Pebble on the waters, salmon, and people of the Bristol Bay region. In publishing the final EIS today, the Army Corps confirmed it took none of those comments seriously, and instead remained committed to achieving its permitting decision on a predetermined political timeline.
Further, the Army Corps also ignored a Congressional directive spearheaded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski in December of 2019 tasking the agency with addressing deficiencies and data gaps within the draft EIS. The final EIS comes just over two-and-a-half years from Pebble’s filing its application for a permit, an unprecedented timeline for a project of such size and scale. The timing also coincides with yet another massive wild salmon run winding down in Bristol Bay, with over 55 million sockeye having returned to the Bay so far this summer.
Bristol Bay leaders made a unified statement about the release of the FEIS for Pebble Limited Partnership’s proposed project:
BBNA President & CEO Ralph Andersen, BBEDC CEO Norm Van Vactor, UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley, CFBB Director Katherine Carscallen:
“Preliminary review proves the Final EIS completely fails to adequately assess the impacts of Pebble on Bristol Bay’s waters, salmon, and people. This comes as no surprise to the people of Bristol Bay who have been silenced and steam-rolled throughout the two-and-a-half-year process that advanced at unprecedented speeds. Not only has the Corps ignored the voices of Bristol Bay but also the concerns from major state and federal scientific agencies and a congressional directive to address the concerns with the major pitfalls in the assessment. The FEIS fails to address those concerns and it wildly underestimates and ignores the devastating impacts Pebble will have on Bristol Bay.
Despite the announcement today, this fight is nowhere near over, more permitting is required, local landowners are blocking the transportation route, and the project remains too toxic for investors. For nearly two decades, the people of Bristol Bay have not faltered in their dedication to protecting Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. We refuse to jeopardize our region for the profits of a foreign mining company. Our cultures, communities and economies rely on our clean water and protecting this for generations to come is far more important than short-term profits. The project would permanently destroy thousands of acres of wetlands and more than one hundred miles of streams, forever devastating our region. Industrial mining is simply not compatible with our vision for the future in Bristol Bay and we will do whatever it takes to stop this toxic project.
It’s time for our elected leaders to stop this corruption and hold the government accountable. Sen. Murkowski and Congress have asked the EPA to veto this project if its devastating impacts are not addressed and now the verdict is in: Pebble will have unavoidable consequences for our people, communities and resources, and the mine must be stopped.”
ANCHORAGE—Via U.S. Postal Service, SalmonState and others today received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Pebble Mine: a massive gold and copper mine and toxic waste dump proposed for the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon run on the planet. The Corps’ conclusions in the FEIS are largely the same as the Draft EIS, which was blasted as woefully inadequate by scores of scientists, mining experts, Tribes, and federal agencies, not to mention thousands of Alaskans.
“With a wink and an under the table handshake, Pebble is asking the U.S. Army Corps to issue a foot-in-the-door permit for a fake mine that is only a fraction of the one it intends to build,” said SalmonState Executive Director Tim Bristol. “And while Pebble will claim this document is a validation of its phony plan, this project is still in the ditch. The majority of Alaskans hate it, it will face broad and deep public opposition, Congressional scrutiny, legal opposition, and a steadily- growing number of investors not interested in environmentally destructive and socially disruptive projects like Pebble. Pebble will cheer this document as a triumph but it is so poorly done and the process has angered so many, the pushback will be like a tidal wave. Over time, we will come to see this moment as the beginning of the end for the proposed Pebble Mine.
The proposed “Northern Route” road that would allow the mining operation transport to and from the mine parallel the northern end of Lake Iliamana received this statement from the Igiugig Village Council, which owns and operates the Diamond Point Rock Quarry along the alternative route that the USACE preferred to other routes in the area:
Igiugig, AK – Igiugig Village Council (IVC) reiterated that its lands at Diamond Point are unavailable for use in developing the northern route for the Pebble Project.
IVC is the owner of Iliaska Environmental LLC, the majority owner and operator of the Diamond Point Rock Quarry – a critical component in the “North Road” alternative that the Army Corps has deemed the “Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative” in the Final EIS.
Igiugig Village Council released the following statement:
“Igiugig has been very clear that Diamond Point is not available for Pebble’s use. As stated last month, our Tribe has existing plans for our Diamond Point site that are and will not be compatible with Pebble’s plans, and we have informed both the Army Corps and Pebble of this fact. Their insistence on pushing this impractical route forward, which is reliant on lands not open to Pebble development, disrespectfully ignores our Tribal sovereignty. IVC is committed to the sustainability and health of future generations and Pebble does not fit into our vision for a thriving future.”