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Report: Pebble Needs Congressional Oversight

Report: Pebble Needs Congressional Oversight

New WSC report documents the mining company’s and public agencies’ back room deals and questionable decisions in pursuit of a permit in Bristol Bay.

Anchorage, AK – Today, the Wild Salmon Center released a comprehensive review of federal agency decisions and negotiations surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska. This report raises serious questions about the decision making and intentions to permit the controversial mine.

“This permitting process simply can’t be trusted,” said Guido Rahr, president and CEO of the Wild Salmon Center. ” The Army Corps of Engineers is racing to give permits to a foreign company to open up Bristol Bay—home to the world’s largest salmon runs—to large scale gold and copper mining. It looks like an inside job, with the Army Corps working on behalf of Pebble to fast track the key permit. It’s now time for Congress to assert its oversight authority over these federal agencies and political appointees, figure out what’s going on and send Pebble back to the drawing board.”    

Located in Southwest Alaska, Bristol Bay constitutes one of the most important salmon ecosystems left on Earth. Its wetlands and watersheds support some of the largest salmon producing rivers remaining on the planet. Those rivers drive a world-class economic engine of tourism, sport fishing and commercial fishing, supporting more than 14,000 jobs and $1.5 billion worth of economic stimulus annually. Bristol Bay is home to 25 federally recognized tribes, whose communities continue thousands of years of subsistence-based lifeways that depend on salmon and clean water.

On February 20, 2019, the Army Corps released the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Pebble Mine—a toxic open-pit mine in Bristol Bay’s headwaters. Based on evidence in the report, it appears that in this draft impact statement, the Army Corps has allowed Pebble Partnership and consultants to cut every scientific and statistical corner possible in the development of its permitting materials—all to expedite a predetermined permit approval for the controversial copper and gold mine.

This follows two years of Pebble lobbying political appointees in the administration, to fast track the mine. Pebble proponents have disregarded years of peer-reviewed science and accumulated knowledge on Bristol Bay within the federal government. They are also running roughshod over the residents of Alaska, where a solid majority of citizens opposes the mine, and they are silencing the millions of Americans who have supported strong protections for Bristol Bay over the last several years.

This report is based on news reports and records sought through the Freedom of Information Act. It details how leading up to, and now through, the draft environmental impact statement process, Pebble has worked every political angle to circumvent longstanding laws for permitting a mine. Among political appointees at the agencies, company officials found willing allies to carry out questionable actions in the company’s interest. Throughout the past two years, there were numerous career staff members who pushed back and questioned key actions of Pebble-friendly appointees. Yet, despite those repeated documented concerns, appointees silenced these experts and dismissed long standing scientific standards.  

“Pebble and cooperating staff’s questionable decisions demand deeper investigation by both the press and congressional oversight committees,” said Emily Anderson, Wild Salmon Center’s Alaska Director. “It is readily apparent that Pebble is working with the administration to go against the will of Alaskans and the American people in pursuit of its mine.”

Read the report: “Pebble’s Permit: The Race to Approve a Toxic Mine on the World’s Greatest Salmon Rivers”

Contact:

Sam Snyder, Wild Salmon Center Alaska Program – [email protected], (907) 903-5811

Oakley Brooks, Wild Salmon Center Communications Director – [email protected] (503) 307-3927

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