DSC agrees with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settlement with the Pebble Partnership that rescinds its 2014 “Proposed Determination.” This step will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but allows the operator of the mine to present a plan to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and undergo a rigorous environmental, economic and social impact review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – an action afforded to all other extractive resource projects in the United States.
On October 12, 2017, the Pebble Project introduced a new and smaller mine plan with enhanced environmental safeguards. This plan is smaller in scope, and its footprint and operating plan is very different from any of the previously discussed proposals.
“Pebble listened to the concerns of groups like ours, and we appreciate it. So will the wildlife and the environment,” said DSC President Craig Nyhus. “The project should be able to be presented without a preemptive determination against it, but as DSC pointed out in its Open Letter sent in May, the potential impacts to wildlife and local economies should be closely examined when considering this or similar projects in the future.”
According to Pebble, the plan improves the safeguards for the tailings impoundment and it will not have waste rock piles. There will be no cyanide plant at the site or any mine facilities in the Upper Talarik Drainage. The mine proposes to benefit the local communities by producing low-cost power for the region and providing revenue sharing for local Alaskan native communities.
Since 1972, DSC has been the gathering point for hunters, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts, and an essential part of its mission is to conserve wildlife and wilderness lands. The Bristol Bay watershed is an area of exceptional ecological value with salmon fisheries unrivaled anywhere in North America. DSC is committed to the principles of the Clean Water Act, NEPA and the Endangered Species Act — as well as the right to due process.
DSC is not opposed to mining, and believes that mining and clean water can coexist. DSC also understands that mining in America must meet some of the most stringent environmental requirements in the world. In Alaska, mining helps promote diverse economic opportunities for Alaska natives and rural communities, like the Red Dog mine owned by the NANA Corporation (an Alaskan native owned corporation). In addition, DSC also realizes that the U.S. needs to develop its own strategic minerals as opposed to being reliant on foreign countries for such products.
DSC agrees that it is only fair that the Pebble Project be able to present its new mine plan to prove they can operate it safely under federal and state laws and regulations. The EPA’s “Proposed Determination” to preemptively block Pebble from the NEPA permit evaluation process was based on analysis of information that is no longer relevant or accurate. Thus, one cannot fairly base what is essentially a pre-permit veto determination on that data.
As DSC said in its statement of May 22, 2017, the organization urges that the potential impacts to wildlife and local economies be closely scrutinized. DSC urges policy makers to ensure laws and regulations fairly treat all applicants for federal permits and that the EPA or any federal agency should not pre-determine an outcome when there is a well-established statutory process, like NEPA.