September 13, 2013
ANCHORAGE — A state court judge has been asked to overturn a 2011 initiative that developers of the proposed Pebble Mine say is an attempt to kill the project.
The Save our Salmon initiative, passed by Lake and Peninsula Borough voters, bans large-scale resource extraction, including mining, that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat.
The Pebble Limited Partnership and the state have asked Judge John Suddock to strike down the initiative. They argue it wrongly elevates the borough’s role above the state’s role in overseeing natural resources, the Anchorage Daily News reported
The state also has told Suddock the proposed Pebble Mine couldn’t be developed if the initiative stands.
“We’re not prohibiting mining in the borough. We’re prohibiting harm to salmon,” said Josh Van Gorkom, a lawyer representing the borough.
Suddock asked another lawyer if the intent of the initiative wasn’t to stop Pebble, saying “the operation of an open pit mine is incompatible with people in hip boots.”
Attorney Scott Kendall replied the initiative sponsors, George Jacko and Jackie Hobson, just wanted to “give salmon a seat at the table.”
The language of the initiative says the borough cannot approve a project that will harm salmon, Kendall said.