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By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK
ebluemink@adn.com

Published: February 7th, 2011 10:28 AM

The federal Environmental Protection Agency said today that it will review the suitability of large-scale development projects — such as the proposed copper and gold Pebble mine — in the Bristol Bay watershed.

The EPA said it is launching the review in response to petitions last year from tribes and other organizations opposed to Pebble. Those groups are worried about the potential impact of large-scale mining on Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon runs.

“The Bristol Bay watershed is essential to the health, environment and economy of Alaska,” said EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran in a written statement.

“Gathering data and getting public review now, before development occurs, just makes sense. Doing this we can be assured that our future decisions are grounded in the best science and information and in touch with the needs of these communities,” McLerran said.

Though it rarely uses this authority, EPA can block waste discharges in areas it determines that development will result in too much harm to aquatic life, recreational areas and drinking water.

U.S. Rep. Don Young has filed legislation to remove EPA’s ability to block projects on that basis. Also, Gov. Sean Parnell last year sent a letter to the EPA opposing the Bristol Bay watershed review. Nine Bristol Bay tribes asked EPA to consider adding protections for the Bristol Bay Watershed under federal water pollution laws. Two other tribes asked the agency to delay any action on the matter until the companies seeking to develop Pebble apply for permits. The companies are not expected to submit permit applications until later this year at the earliest.

EPA said its review will focus on the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds, both downstream of the Pebble deposit.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2011/02/07/1688653/epa-to-review-bristol-bay-projects.html#ixzz1DJ20gNZX

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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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Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

‘Pebble could pollute perfect, porous habitat’

ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS COMPASS: Other points of view

By JACK STANFORD

Published: July 25th, 2010 06:19 PM

Executives with Pebble Limited Partnership and some of their high-profile supporters, like former House Speaker Gail Phillips, have recently made misleading statements about the location and potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.

They stated in public forums that Pebble is not located in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and that it would only affect about two streams out of some 42 similarly-sized streams in the project area, thus creating the false impression that this enormous copper and gold mine would cause minimal harm to the habitat of Bristol Bay’s great salmon fishery. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The argument that this giant mineral deposit is not in the headwaters of the Nushagak and the Kvichak Rivers relies on a dim notion that the headwaters is only the single stream in a watershed that is farthest from the ocean. Any thinking person knows that surface and ground waters flow downhill anywhere in a watershed, not just from the stream that’s farthest from the ocean. As someone who has taught river ecology for 40 years, I know that the headwaters are where small streams first start to flow throughout a watershed.

I began my career in 1967 on the shoreline of Alaska’s largest king salmon producing river, the Nushagak, near Ekwok. My job was to sit on a tower above the river and count the number and species of salmon swimming underneath to reach spawning grounds in the headwaters of the Nushagak. Sockeye, chum, chinook, pink and coho streamed by, sometimes faster than I could count them. Since then, I have worked in rivers around the world exploring how they create habitat for salmon and trout.

Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run, and it’s a testament to the thoughtful management policies of the State of Alaska that it has remained so. The key to the high productivity of sockeye in Bristol Bay is the habitat, especially the abundance of clean lakes and the intimate connection between water flowing underground and at the surface. Bristol Bay is an inherently wet, porous place, where water moving between the ground and the surface provides the perfect place for salmon eggs to develop.

It is simply wishful thinking to assume that the Pebble prospect can be developed without long-term impacts on Bristol Bay salmon. Pebble would necessarily destroy salmon-bearing headwater streams outright and would very likely pollute many more. This has happened time and again with sulfide mines around the globe, and Pebble would be one of the largest and likely the most destructive headwaters removal mine ever conceived.

Any pollution from Pebble wouldn’t just affect salmon near the mine site; it would travel easily downstream, through surface and groundwater. In fact, the porous nature of the Bristol Bay watershed that makes it such a great producer of salmon also makes it especially vulnerable to the kind of pollution that is caused by copper sulfide mining.

In the end, a project like Pebble would put all of the salmon downstream from the site at risk; this means no less than all of the fish that return to and rear in the Nushugak, the Kvichak, Lake Iliamna and the vast majority of their tributaries. A mine of this magnitude is not just about the mine site and the pollution that could emanate from it, it’s also about the broader cumulative effects, whether it’s the haul roads that cross stream after stream and open up the entire area, leaks from the slurry pipelines or the multitude of mining claims whose owners stand ready to develop more mines if Pebble becomes a reality.

As an expert on rivers, I can say with authority that Bristol Bay is in nearly the same situation that faced the great salmon rivers in the Lower 48 before their salmon were lost to development, dams, pollution and other factors. The only real difference for Bristol Bay is that the decision can be informed by history.

On the other hand, wishfully thinking that you can have it all — a mining district and a thriving fishery — will take Bristol Bay down the same road as so many once-great salmon rivers.


Jack A. Stanford is a professor of ecology at the University of Montana.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/07/25/1380983/pebble-could-pollute-perfect-porous.html#ixzz0uozjEvjj

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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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WEBBristol_RedDogMine

Red Dog Mine in the Northwest Arctic, Alaska. The proposed Pebble Mine
alone would produce 20x the ore output as Red Dog. According to the US
Environmental Protection Agency, Red Dog is the single-largest source of
toxic pollution in the United States. ©Northern Alaska Environmental Center.
(courtesy of Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska)

From today’s ADN Editorial Pages…

Is Alaska ready for Pebble?

The recent settlement by Teck Alaska over wastewater discharge violations at its Red Dog Mine and port near Kotzebue testifies to both the value of the Clean Water Act and the risk inherent in world-class mining operations.

For Alaskans, the settlement underscores doubts about the wisdom of exploiting the Pebble prospect, which has world-class gold and copper deposits near the headwaters of some of Bristol Bay’s richest salmon streams.

We’re told Alaska has strong mining laws that will ensure Pebble is benign. Experience with Red Dog suggests those laws have failed to prevent significant trouble….

Read the complete editorial here: http://www.adn.com/opinion/view/story/945224.html

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UPDATED: from Midcurrent…

Former Alaska First Lady Part of New Pebble Mine Suit

By Marshall Cutchin

The big news out of Alaska yesterday afternoon was that former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond has filed suit, along with native Alaskan representatives and other individuals, against the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. They say the DNR has repeatedly violated the state constitution by allowing mining exploration without regard for the public interest and without required oversight. “‘DNR has neglected its legal and moral obligation to protect Bristol Bay’s subsistence resources,’ said Bobby Andrew, spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai, a lead plaintiff. ‘Current exploration is having a serious impact on water and wildlife, yet the agency continues to rubber stamp permits and ignore the public interest.'”

Read the entire story at Midcurrent: http://www.midcurrent.com/news/2009/07/former-alaska-first-lady-part.html

Posted on Moldy Chum’s site: Bristol Bay Native Leaders to Hold Press Briefing

Alaska Native leaders from the Bristol Bay region will hold a press event, which will be available by teleconference, in Anchorage this Wednesday to announce a significant new development in the long-running controversy over exploration and development of the Pebble mine project.

WHO:
· Bobby Andrew, board member of Nunamta Aulukestai (Caretakers of our Lands)
· Jack Hobson, Nondalton resident
· Other speakers (TBA)

WHEN:
Press Conference and Telephone Briefing
Wednesday, July 29, 2009,
10 AM Alaska Time

WHERE:
In-Person
:
Marriot Hotel at H and 7th Streets
Skagway Valdez Room
Anchorage, Alaska
Parking available at Municipal Garage

By Telephone:
Call-in number: 800-311-9402
Passcode: 5729

VISUALS:
In addition to the speakers, there will be maps and photos ready for download

CONTACT:
Harlin Savage, Resource Media, (720) 564-05500, ext. 11, harlin@resource-media.org
Lynda Giguere, Resource Media-Alaska (907) 771-4020, lynda@resource-media.org

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Gone Fishin' | Photo: www.alaskaseafood.org

Gone Fishin' | Photo: http://www.alaskaseafood.org

In a world full of leaders with massive, blinding egos, ours takes the cake. To say that Sarah Palin is inconsistent is like saying Michael Jackson is not getting enough press coverage. Just days after announcing her ‘official’ premature extraction from Alaska’s highest office, Sarah Palin is now fishing in Bristol Bay. Yes, the very same Bristol Bay in which she is in favor of exploiting for mineral wealth via the Pebble Mine.

Her support of Anglo and Northern Dynasty Minerals is now common knowledge (see: https://tspey.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/down-but-not-out/) made more evident by the fact that the Palin family has taken gifts and paid trips from pro-Pebble Mine suppporters (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/25/AR2008092503988_pf.html).

In an age when one’s actions speak louder than their lies even steadfast supporters of Palin are now smacking into the broken glass-lined wall of reality. Yes, we have been hoodwinked into thinking that this person was much more than what she really is.

Alaskan politics of late has been marred with corruption. Speculation abounds that Palin’s decision may be a pre-emptive action against this nasty ‘c’ word. Alaskans have been forcefully spoon-fed this type of mush for too long. The time has passed for personal-gain politicos who have worn out their welcome.

The decision to quit makes no sense politically. What is the real reason for Palin’s fall? Family? Tired of the spotlight? Greed? So far up in Alaska, the latter is the speculative and all too common assumption.

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