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Posts Tagged ‘Anchorage Daily News’

EPA chief hears mine opponents at Bristol Bay meeting

By MARGARET BAUMAN
Dutch Harbor Fisherman via The Associated Press

Published: August 4th, 2010 03:59 PM
Last Modified: August 4th, 2010 09:50 PM

DILLINGHAM — One by one, representatives of a dozen Southwest Alaska communities stood to tell the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the threat they feel the massive Pebble mine prospect would pose to their way of life.

“If you take away who we are, our natural resources, that would be terminating us as a people,” Mary Ann Johnson from the tribal council of Portage Creek told EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last week, during a listening session at Dillingham High School.

“The salmon have saved people from starvation,” said Dennis Andrew, of the village of New Stuyahok, noting the importance of the Bristol Bay watershed’s abundance to both people and wildlife. “It is so important that they continue to spawn in our waters.”

The event, billed by EPA as a listening session on the massive copper, gold, silver and molybdenum deposit that could be mined at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, attracted only opponents.

Supporters, including representatives of Iliamna Development Corp., who say the prospect poses a tremendous opportunity for economic development, were not in attendance.

Jackson had met earlier in Anchorage with representatives of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which has said it will invest up to $73 million in Alaska this year as part of its ongoing effort to advance the project. According to the Pebble Partnership, the mine prospect has one of the largest concentrations of copper, gold, molybdenum and silver in the world.

Those speaking to the EPA at the listening session spoke of other riches. They are the sons and daughters of Eskimo families who have inhabited this region for thousands of years, engaging in a subsistence lifestyle dependent upon the fish and sea mammals in the waters of Bristol Bay and a land bountiful in wildlife and berries.

“We lead a very rich lifestyle in a resource-rich area,” said Tom Tilden, first chief of the Curyung Tribal Council in Dillingham. “We can continue to live in this area as long as the resources are protected.”

“Bristol Bay is a national treasure that we must protect,” said Robin Samuelsen, president and chief executive officer of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. “Bristol Bay is one of those rare areas where we should not mine.”

“We believe,” said Kimberly Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai, Caretakers of the Land, “that our life is just so worth protecting. We are not going to go away; we’re going to keep fighting” (to protect the Bristol Bay watershed).

Jackson, who holds a master’s in chemical engineering from Princeton University, opened the meeting with greetings from President Barack Obama. She told the group that Obama wants his administration to talk with tribes on a government-to-government basis.

She also told several dozen people gathered in the high school gymnasium “that there is no such thing as a choice between a job and clean water. You are entitled to both.”

Jackson, who grew up in coastal Louisiana, said life there was tough “but I will take my hat off to the people who make their living here,” a reference to the challenges of living in rural Alaska and the subsistence lifestyle.

The speakers’ list ranged from Jason Metrokin, president and chief executive officer of the Bristol Bay Native Corp., to Bella Hammond of Lake Clark, widow of former Gov. Jay Hammond, who received a standing ovation.

Others included former Alaska Senate President Rick Halford, a technical advisor to Nunamta Aulukestai and Trout Unlimited; Dillingham city planner Jody Seitz, and Anchorage attorney Jeff Parker, representing the community of Nondalton.

Major concerns voiced were the importance of maintaining pollution-free waters critical to subsistence and the Yup’ik Eskimo culture, as well as the multi-million dollar commercial and sport fishing industry.

Some focused on potential activities at the proposed mine that they believe could forever contaminate the watershed critical to all life in the region. Others contended that activities during the prospect’s exploration phase are damaging king salmon runs and causing many animals in the Mulchatna caribou herd to migrate elsewhere.

“Moose and caribou are an important part of our diet,” said Peter Christopher of New Stuyahok. Exploration activities at the mine site have scared off 75 percent of the Mulchatna herd, he said.

“The mine could affect the Nushagak, which is our aquifer,” Seitz said.

The city of Dillingham opposes Pebble, she said. “Fisheries are a critical piece of the economy.”

Many speakers also addressed a need for a closer relationship between the federal and tribal governments, and said the state does not support the tribes.

The listening session was preceded by a potluck luncheon featuring a number of popular area foods, including moose, salmon, duck, muktuk and fried bread, plus salads and large bowls of akutaq – Eskimo ice cream – filled with berries abundant in the region.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/08/04/1395461/epa-chief-hears-mine-opponents.html#ixzz0vi4wfFF5

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No time to post for awhile but in the meantime…

 

Craig man accused of ramming humpback whales

by The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A man accused of ramming two humpback whales in the waters near Craig has reportedly reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the deal calls for 44-year-old Kevin B. Carle to plead guilty to harassing whales. He would face a $1,000 fine and two years on probation.

Carle operated a 34-foot jet boat that ferried loggers and supplies between Craig and logging camps. Prosecutors say he veered to hit whales two times in 2008 in Trocadero Bay and near Breezy Bay.

Carle wouldn’t say why he rammed the whales. It’s unknown if they were injured.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Craig man accused of ramming humpback whales

 

Judge lets anti-Pebble lawsuit go forward 

By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK

ebluemink@adn.com

A judge has declined to dismiss a court case alleging that state regulators violated the Alaska Constitution when they issued exploration and land-use permits to companies drilling at the Pebble copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska.

Lawyers for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources recently argued that all six counts of the civil lawsuit, filed by Pebble opponents, should be dismissed on summary judgment.

Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth on Friday dismissed one count in the lawsuit but allowed the others to proceed to trial. He also ruled that the trial will address only the permits at Pebble rather than the validity of the state’s permitting system for mineral exploration, in general…

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/07/13/1365307/judge-lets-anti-pebble-lawsuits.html#ixzz0tbiQfzKq

 

Woman chases black bear in effort to save pet rabbit

By LISA DEMER

ldemer@adn.com

HEARD PET’S CRIES: Woman pursued bruin in her stocking feet but couldn’t rescue rabbit.

A black bear snatched up a partially paralyzed pet rabbit from the owner’s yard in Muldoon on Thursday morning, and the rabbit’s owner gave chase. But she couldn’t rescue her bunny, named George, from the teeth of the bear…

…The owner heard her rabbit’s cries and chased the bear across several yards in her stocking feet, police said. She went down an alley before the bear turned and confronted her. But the bear didn’t give up the rabbit…

…George was known in the neighborhood because his back legs were paralyzed and he scooted around with the help of a two-wheeled cart fashioned by the owner, police said. The owner has a number of rabbits, said police Lt. Dave Parker. George was in the front yard inside a wire and wood fence that the bear jumped, Parker said…

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/07/08/1359438/woman-chases-black-bear-in-effort.html

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I realize ‘dumbification’ is not an actual word but what’s worse, an individual making up a word or a mining conglomerate’s unmitigated attempts at brainwashing Alaskans in their push to develop Pebble Mine.

The truth is slapping us in the face about Pebble, the Pebble Partnership, and Anglo American Mining. Do not minimize the recent violations from Anglo and the Pebble Partnership. The unauthorized use of water is a strong indicator of things to come.  

The actions of Pebble to ‘decide’ to not apply for permits in 2010 are now crystal clear. Their pre-emptive ‘decision’ is a carefully planned fabrication to dilute the news about the State of Alaska’s order to suspend Pebble’s permits for their water-use violations. This action by Pebble is a blatant attempt to obfuscate the public. 

Clean water is the life-blood of the Bristol Bay region. The Pebble Partnership’s indifference to the region’s water resources and the State of Alaska’s permitting process is unacceptable.

Pebble won’t apply for development permits in 2010

JANUARY 21, 2010 – 7:11 PM

That’s the word from the Pebble Partnership during a recent public debate about the proposed mine in Dillingham. It’s a delay in the company’s previous permitting schedule.

Pebble mine developers to pay fine over water-use violation

By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK

Published: February 12th, 2010 02:25 PM 

 The companies developing the massive Pebble mine prospect in Southwest Alaska have agreed to pay a $45,000 fine to the state for unauthorized use of water near its drilling sites.

State regulators said today they have suspended the permits needed for exploration at the Pebble copper and gold deposit. In a settlement agreement, the state has spelled out conditions that must be met before the permits are reinstated.

The settlement follows a state-led investigation that began after the Pebble Partnership reported the unauthorized water withdrawals in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The company said it discovered the violations last October. Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan signed the settlement agreement on Thursday.

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Read this insightful article written by Dr. Bruce Switzer in today’s Anchorage Daily News.

 

COMPASS: Other points of view

By BRUCE SWITZER

 

Published: August 18th, 2008 10:24 PM
Last Modified: August 18th, 2008 10:42 PM

 

Ballot Measure 4, “An Act to Protect Alaska’s Clean Water,” is focused on preventing the certain disaster threatening the world’s largest salmon run — the Pebble Mine. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Its intention is simple: mining companies cannot destroy salmon spawning streams or discharge mine waste into these streams in amounts exceeding federal and state water quality standards. “Mixing zones” would be prohibited in salmon spawning streams. Despite our opponents’ rhetoric, we support mining in Alaska. Pebble is simply the wrong mine in the wrong place, and the risk to Bristol Bay is far too great.

This is why the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, made up of 200 Native villages, endorsed Ballot Measure 4.

 

Every sulphide mine in conditions remotely resembling Pebble has polluted the surrounding waters. No acid-generating mine has ever been built in an environment as economically important and ecologically significant as Pebble, let alone where the ground is saturated; the water table is at the surface, and where experts predict a quake of magnitude 7.7 or greater.

 

If this is not enough, consider that the companies involved in developing Pebble have no experience in northern mining. Anglo American has never planned or built a mine in North America, let alone under the extremely difficult conditions at Pebble. Their partner, Northern Dynasty, has never planned or built anything. In its 2004 annual report, Northern Dynasty stated that Pebble is probably uninsurable because of accidents, spills, earthquake and “catastrophe.” Yet these companies want to build the largest-open pit sulfide mine in North America with the largest tailings dam ever built to hold back the tailings.

 

Who will monitor this toxic waste after the mine is closed? Sooner or later, the ground will shake, and with the weight of the tailings dam and the naturally unstable geomorphology of the ground, billions of gallons of toxic tailings will slide down to the sea.

 

Our opponents want you to believe that this is not about Pebble. Why then has 53 percent of the $8.2 million they have thus far spent opposing us come from the Pebble Partnership? They say that Ballot Measure 4 does not even mention Pebble. Of course it doesn’t; by constitutional law it can’t. They say it was written and proposed in secret. As if the Alaskans who gathered 30,000 signatures did it secretly?

 

The mining industry has attacked us for receiving donations from Americans for Job Security, but South African, British, and Canadian companies who call themselves “Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown” have provided over 91 percent of the funds opposing us.

 

Our opponents claim Alaska salmon are already protected by the most stringent environmental regulations in the world. This is false. Before Gov. Murkowski, Alaska regulations were solid and reasonable, but not now. In fact, the Fraser Institute, a pro-mining archconservative think-tank, conducted a 2007 survey of international mining company executives and reported that of 117 states, provinces and countries, only nine had lower taxes and easier environmental regulations than Alaska, and that only one state in the Union was more friendly to mining — Nevada. Finally, consider this: all five operating hard rock mines in Alaska were permitted under pre-Murkowski regulations more rigorous than anything proposed under Measure 4.

 

If passed, new, large-scale metal mines may need to devote more attention to environmental protection during mine construction and operation. But, in most circumstances, already proven mining methods and technologies are available to accommodate the intention of Measure 4. Waste dumps can be set back from salmon streams, diversion ditches can capture toxic waste at the dump toe and divert it to a treatment plant, well-designed bridges can be built to cross streams instead of haphazardly installed culverts, and so on.

 

Ballot Initiative 4 does not shut down the mining industry. Existing mines are excluded; expansion of existing mines is excluded; and mines of fewer than 640 acres are excluded. If there is any question about this, the state can amend the act to strengthen the clear intent laid out in the initiative. Most mines could protect salmon streams — but not in Bristol Bay.

 

link: http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/497998.html

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