GARA: Pebble Mine’s toxic threat to Alaska and how to be heard

(Photo by Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Flickr)

By Les Gara. Les is a recovering representative for Downtown Anchorage and writes a regular newsletter, which this guest post is adapted from.

I don’t believe in trading the world’s greatest wild salmon and trout waters, and a way of life in Bristol Bay, for a foreign-owned toxic mega-mine. There are 1.4 billion tons of reasons why a toxic Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place.

They begin with a Trojan Horse plan that would store 1.4 billion tons of toxic sludge and earth near two of Bristol Bay’s most important Salmon drainages. Toxic sludge that, with the presence of tons of mined pyrite, can turn to sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water. That’s just the first phase of a mine the owners admit will eventually be expanded eight-fold to store 11 billion tons of toxic waste, sludge and removed earth.

Public comments on this mine, and our concerns, are due July 1. Here’s how to submit your own comments and I’d ask you to share this with friends.

Writing Public Comments

I’ve written on this mine, and the details of the dangers it poses. I’ll include that link here.

Here is a list of sources you can use, both easy ones and ones with more detail, if you need them to write your own comments. Or you may have enough information on your own. Whatever you choose as your source, please write something.

Public Comments: You can send your comments to drafteis@comments.pebbleprojecteis.com.

Easiest Links: Three groups have easy links to help you write comments. You can go to United Tribes of Bristol Bay Website, Save Bristol Bay or Trout Unlimited to view more information and comment links.

There’s also a group that details the information that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may find most relevant in comments, and my May Newsletter also details the dangers the Pebble Mine threatens.

Thanks for speaking up! And let me know if you have questions (lesgara@gmail.com)

My Best,

Les Gara

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1 Comment on "GARA: Pebble Mine’s toxic threat to Alaska and how to be heard"

  1. Karen Christopher | July 1, 2019 at 11:00 am | Reply

    Development of the proposed Pebble Mine poses enormous threats to Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. This region is home to the world’s greatest wild salmon runs, thriving indigenous people and cultures, and a wide array of plants and wildlife, including moose, bears, caribou, birds, and fish. Pebble Mine puts all of this at jeopardy, because it will impact the pristine land and water that sustains the people of the region and each of those species. The proposed mine would disrupt the traditional ways of life that have been practiced in the region since time immemorial, an ecologically-diverse environment, and the wild salmon runs that support world-class commercial and sport fishing industries, and in turn, the local economy.

    As the lead federal agency in charge of reviewing the Pebble Limited Partnership’s 404 Clean Water Act Dredge and Fill permit application and conducting the National Environmental Policy Act’s required Environmental Impact Statement, it is your duty to conduct a thorough review of the project, including a comprehensive public process. So far, the USACE has done no such thing. The public comment periods have been inadequate, and the resulting Draft Environmental Impact Statement has significant gaps. The document does not adequately address concerns raised by the public during the scoping process, nor does it address the wide-range of potential impacts the mine could have in the Bristol Bay region. Notably, the analysis of subsistence impacts, downstream effects, and economic impacts both within the region and to those who rely on the fishery but live elsewhere, are completely inadequate. Further, the lack of baseline data for many project components and the lack of any economic feasibility study are highly disconcerting. There is no doubt that the review of Pebble’s permit is rushed and flawed.

    A project the size of Pebble, located in a highly ecologically sensitive area, requires more than the bare minimum of review. The hurried and insufficient process that we have observed so far has not allowed for concerned citizens, Alaska Native Tribes and people, and other stakeholders of the Bristol Bay region to provide the level of critical input that is needed in drafting an adequate Environmental Impact Statement.

    Based on our grave concerns about the negative impacts this project would have on the pristine water and land of our region, and the indigenous cultures and commercial and sport fisheries that are sustained by this land and water, the only reasonable alternative is the No Action Alternative, meaning no mine would be built. Every other option considered in the DEIS has not been adequately reviewed and would cause destruction to Bristol Bay’s ecosystem and all it sustains. We are asking you, as the lead federal agency reviewing this project, to put forth the No Action Alternative as the only possibility going forward.

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