Alannah Hurley, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, (907) 843-1633
Nelli Williams, Trout Unlimited Alaska Program, (907) 230-7121
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Bristol Bay leadership reacts to Pebble permit application filing
DILLINGHAM, AK – Today, the Bristol Bay region met the Pebble Limited Partnership’s long-delayed federal permit applications with skepticism and renewed determination as Northern Dynasty continues to move forward with a mine Alaskans don’t want. More than 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents, hundreds of businesses, and thousands of fishermen oppose the mining proposal. During a recent comment period, over 1 million people, including close to 26,000 Alaskans, weighed in supporting protections for Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. Alaska Governor Bill Walker joined those voices, stating recently: “I am not supportive of the Pebble Mine.” People of the region remain steadfastly opposed to the proposal to build a mine at the headwaters of the fishery that has supported the area since time immemorial.
The permit application is not yet available to the public, and still must be reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether or not it is even complete. Prior to the Company’s permit filing, the existing public and scientific record thoroughly demonstrated that mining the Pebble deposit is too risky to the fishery in Bristol Bay. Today’s filing does nothing to change that.
Bristol Bay and Alaska leaders released the following statements:
Bristol Bay Native Association President and CEO Ralph Andersen:
“Bristol Bay has opposed the Pebble Project based on years of extensive study and consideration by our people. Science tells us that this project would put our water and all it sustains at risk. We believe our fisheries and way of life warrant special protections, and we will not put them at risk for the short-term profit of a toxic mining project.”
United Tribes of Bristol Bay Board President Robert Heyano:
“Tribal members in Bristol Bay have heard this same story time and again. Since 2005, we’ve heard from the Company that the mine was only a few years away. But now that’s changed: Pebble now has to prove that it’s mine isn’t going to harm our Native way of life. No more talk, no more PR, but actual facts. Given the overwhelming scientific knowledge we already possess about our region, we know the permitting process will confirm that the mine will not work in Bristol Bay.”
Alaska House District 37 Representative Bryce Edgmon:
“Today’s permit applications by the Pebble Limited Partnership do nothing to change the powerful opposition to their plans by my Bristol Bay constituents. The vast majority of the people I serve are more resolved than ever in their determination to protect their livelihoods and their way of life. Federal regulators should bring the utmost care to considering what Pebble has put forward. As regulators evaluate the ‘smaller’ project the partnership recently introduced as an apparent last-ditch effort, they should bear in mind the even more catastrophic scale of watershed mining that the company has pushed to investors for more than a decade. Exhaustive scientific research has already demonstrated that acid-drainage mining would be devastating to the Bristol Bay Watershed. This research, spanning more than ten years, has always borne out that Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.”
Nunamta Aulukestai Interim Executive Director Myrtice Evalt:
“Bristol Bay waters have nurtured salmon runs that have fed our families for thousands of years. They have produced the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world. They have given Alaska a sustainable fishing industry that provides thousands and thousands of jobs. These companies know nothing of what we value, or of the value of this place. Their mine project is not welcome here, whatever story they sell. This is not about money to us. This is about our communities, our cultures, our homes.”
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. CEO Norm Van Vactor:
“It took the Pebble Limited Partnership twelve years just to file the paperwork asking the Army Corps to look at this project. The bar is set very low, indeed, if merely filing an application is cause for celebration. Bristol Bay fishermen file paperwork for their permits every single year, without fanfare. And here in Bristol Bay, we will choose our sustainable commercial fishery that generates thousands of jobs over a short-term development project.”
Commercial Drift Fisherman Paul Hansen:
“It is disappointing to see the Pebble Partnership continue to advance this project, essentially throwing away money on the permit process. The Environmental Impact Statement will reiterate what the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment has already told us: a mine cannot co-exisit with our world class fishery. Bristol Bay has the last great wild sockeye fishery, and no amount of money in permitting is going to change the science and facts that this mine will disrupt our already booming and sustainable commercial fishery. If Pebble has money to spend, it should go toward cleaning up the mess the company already made in the region. Any other investment is a waste because this disruptive industry will not be allowed in Bristol Bay.”
Trout Unlimited Alaska Program Director Nelli Williams:
“It doesn’t matter how fancy you package the proposed Pebble Mine — when the shiny wrapping paper is ripped off and you see what’s inside you’ll find that they still want to dig a massive pollution-generating hole in the middle of salmon country. Science and history tell us that this can’t be done without gigantic risks. How many times do Alaskans need to say no to this ill-conceived project? Bristol Bay is a globally recognized tourist destination that supports Alaskan families and businesses. Visitors don’t pay thousands of dollars to see giant mines in Alaska – they come to fish and hunt and experience the great outdoors. On behalf of millions of Americans who love Bristol Bay, we’ll continue to fight Pebble’s ill-conceived proposal every step of the way. Today we call on leaders to support a world-class renewable resource and American families and jobs, not promote the interests of a foreign mining company.”
Bristol Bay Native Association is the regional nonprofit tribal service provider providing social, economic, and educational opportunities to tribal members.
The United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) is a tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Denai’na, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.
The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation exists to promote economic growth and opportunities for Bristol Bay residents through sustainable use of the Bering Sea fisheries.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau.
Nunamta Aulukestai is a coalition of Alaska Native Village Corporations and tribes in the Bristol Bay region dedicated to protecting the Bristol Bay watershed from unsustainable development. Nunamta is a client of Trustees for Alaska.