Bay delay: California rep writes rider to suspend Alaska’s Pebble Mine

Alaska’s Bristol Bay fleet and other regional stakeholders are getting some unexpected help from California Rep. Jared Huffman (D).

California Rep. Jared Huffman (D).

Huffman added an amendment to a massive spending package that would forbid the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from using funding to complete the required environmental impact statement for the construction of the Pebble Ltd. copper and gold mine.

The Corps submitted a draft statement for the mine in February. Public and private entities have been outspoken in their lack of faith in the scientific legitimacy of the report.

Kodiak’s City Council voted to submit a letter pointing out “a number of insufficiencies in the various analyses of the possible impacts of the Pebble Mine on Alaska’s fisheries,” according to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

In early June, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to submit a letter stating its concern about the large marine ecosystems of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, which the mine would be situated between, and the rivers and streams that would connect Bristol Bay’s essential fish habitat to the mine.

“The economic and cultural value of these fisheries to Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and other states including domestic and international markets cannot be overstated and must be comprehensively evaluated in any analysis that considers development of a large-scale mine in the area,” the letter, signed by Chairman Simon Kinneen, read.

Public comments close on the Corps’ 15,000-page draft statement on July 1.

Trout Unlimited has noted also that the Pebble Partnership is delaying the study of fish surveys related to the proposed road corridor until after the public comment period closes, which keeps the results ushered away from public feedback.

Further, possibly as a result of the rush to publish the draft, the Corps notes that the draft statement includes outstanding data gaps as well as missing field work data, project designs and technical details that are not scheduled to be filed until after the close of the comment period.

“This missing information relies heavily on field work that Pebble must complete this summer, and reports and plans that Pebble has yet to make public,” said Jenny Weis, Alaska Communications director for Trout Unlimited.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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