28 December 2011

Environmental & Energy news takes in-depth look at Pebble debate

Pebble Watch regularly provides news round-ups with links to articles related to development of the proposed Pebble Mine. In a recent two-part series published online in Environmental and Energy News, reporter Gabriel Nelson takes an in-depth look at the debate.

Part 1: SALMON: Battle for Bristol Bay, a resource struggle for the ages

Part 2: MINING: Pebble prospect divides Alaskans in land of plenty

Environmental & Energy news previously covered this topic during interviews with Bristol Bay Native Corporation CEO Jason Metrokin and Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively. Read more about those interviews here

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27 December 2011

December Pebble Watch newsletter now available

dec2012newsimageThe December issue of the Pebble Watch newsletter is being mailed this week, and is available for download in the Newsletters section of our website now.

This issue focuses on a question the EPA is asking in its Bristol Bay watershed assessment: "Is the Bristol Bay salmon fishery the world-class fishery it is depicted to be?" The Pebble Watch team also examines documents currently available online, including a Preliminary Assessment of the Pebble project and EPA's conceptual diagrams related to the watershed assessment.

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19 December 2011

BBNC shareholders hear from EPA

EPA Manager Rick Parkin presented an update of EPA's Bristol Bay watershed assessment to Bristol Bay Native Corporation shareholders at their annual Village Leadership Workshop in Anchorage in early December.

The update outlined the work the watershed assessment team has done so far and summarized some of their preliminary findings.

Among these, said Parkin, was the fact that "Bristol Bay, including the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds, hosts one of the few remaining vital, viable and sustainable indigenous cultures relying on wild salmon in the U.S. and perhaps the world."

More than 50 interviews with elders contributed to EPA's study of the indigenous cultures of the Bristol Bay area. Participants answered the question: "What is the importance of salmon in the lives of the people of the Bristol Bay villages?" Parkin commented that the messages received during the interviews have been "quite consistent."

"Overall, what we think we're seeing are healthy cultures that are growing," he said. "Subsistence hunting continues to provide Native people with up to 80 percent of their protein."

Also notable, he said: "The culture has not been broken or significantly modified by Western impact. There are strong links to the past."

Parkin concluded his presentation with an updated schedule for the watershed assessment. The next step will be a call for public input for candidates who will serve as peer reviewers of the watershed assessment. That announcement will appear in the Federal Register, and will also be summarized here at PebbleWatch. You'll find more information about peer review, what it is and why it is important, in the December issue of the PebbleWatch newsletter.

The presentation was among several Parkin presented to interested groups, organizations and businesses in December.

Download a PDF version of the entire EPA presentation, including the updated schedule.

More information on the EPA Watershed Assessment.

Questions? Write EPA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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15 November 2011

Latest Pebble news includes statewide poll results

Recent Pebble Mine news includes results of a statewide poll showing the majority of Alaskans oppose the proposed mine, and an article detailing the growth in the mining industry this year. Public Radio International also discussed the Pebble Mine issue in an interview with KDLG news director Mike Mason.

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08 November 2011

Pebble news: November 8, 2011

Recent Pebble Mine news includes updates and reactions to the "Save Our Salmon" initiative, and an interview with Fred Parady, the new executive director for the Alaska Miners' Association.

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31 October 2011

Science group releases video, overview of Dillingham discussion

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has published an article highlighting the Pebble Mine issue, which was raised at the science organization's first-ever Arctic Science Symposium in Dillingham last month. "Proposed Pebble Mine Has Alaskan Community Focused on Critical Science and Policy Issues," by Edward W. Lempinen, addresses the cultural and economic significance of the Bristol Bay fisheries and the role science has to play in the debate over Pebble Mine development.

In describing the symposium's half-day public forum on Pebble Mine, Lempinen noted the focused tone of the discussion and audience questions.

"As they consider the benefits and risks that the mine may bring to the area, many people want to know whether mining waste could escape the Pebble site to damage waterways or hurt fish, and whether mine engineering can build dams and containments strong enough to endure for hundreds of years in an active earthquake zone."

A shorter version of this article also appears in the October 28, 2011 issue of Science magazine.

Media related to this article

Video: AAAS has posted a 51-minute video of the public forum, which included the following panelists:

  • Tom Crafford, Director, DNR Office of Project Management & Permitting
  • Bryce Edgmon, AK Representative (D-37)
  • Rick Halford, Dillingham resident and former Alaska State Senate President
  • John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Partnership
  • Tiel Smith, Land and Resource Manager, Bristol Bay Native Corporation

Photos: Slideshow with photos from the Symposium.

More about AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. It publishes the monthly journal Science, among other publications. For more information, visit www.aaas.org.

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30 October 2011

Federal legislation that could affect Pebble Mine development

Pebble Watch is tracking three federal bills that have the potential to affect the development of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Two of these bills seek to either remove or restrict the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.  The third bill seeks to provide federal funding for protecting and restoring "salmon strongholds."

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26 October 2011

Recent Pebble news focuses on initiative vote

The debate over the proposed Pebble Mine continues to garner national attention, with featured stories on National Public Radio and news articles appearing in a range of papers from the LA Times to the Lebanon Daily News. Many of the recent stories regard the outcome of the Lake and Peninsula Borough "Save Our Salmon" initiative, which passed 280 for and 246 against. The latest news on this topic is the State of Alaska's suit to invalidate the results of the local vote.

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25 October 2011

Did you see us at AFN?

Members of the Pebble Watch team were available last week at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage to answer questions, give out copies of past newsletters, and introduce visitors to this web site as a source for educational information and updates related to the development of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Questions we heard at the convention, along with our answers:

Q: Are you "for" or "against" Pebble?

A: Neither. Pebble Watch is an educational effort funded by Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC). Its mission is to provide an impartial source of information that people can reference in order to form their own opinions about the development of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Q: What was that Lake & Pen vote about? Isn't Pebble stopped now?

A: As it is written, the "Save Our Salmon" initiative that recently passed in the Lake and Peninsula Borough does limit the development of projects more than 640 acres in size, which would include the proposed Pebble Mine. However, the Pebble Limited Partnership and the State of Alaska introduced litigation to stop the initiative even before the October 4 vote. While Alaska Superior Court Judge David Suddock allowed the initiative to go to a vote, he will consider further arguments about the initiative's validity beginning November 7, 2011.

Q: If BBNC opposes the development of Pebble Mine, how can Pebble Watch be impartial?

A: While BBNC has stated a position against development of the Pebble Mine, it funds the fact-based initiative called Pebble Watch in order to provide an impartial and credible source of information for those interested in learning more. As noted by the Keystone Center in its 2008 "Stakeholder Assessment and Dialogue Feasibility Study for the Proposed Pebble Project," stakeholders who have not made up their minds about Pebble are seeking "credible scientific information pertaining to existing environmental, social, and economic conditions." Pebble Watch strives to provide the best sources for such information, to help individuals better understand the science, permitting process and best opportunities to offer public input during the public process involved with development of the Pebble Mine.

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State seeks public comment on permitting

State of Alaska agencies in the departments of Natural Resources, Fish and Game and Environmental Conservation  are continuing to collect public input on a Permitting Initiative to review and streamline the current state permitting process used for development of both small and large resource development projects, including mining. The proposed Pebble Mine is one of many projects that could be affected by any changes to the state's processes and interactions with federal agencies.

Pebble Watch team members attended an October 13 meeting in Anchorage, one of eight scheduled public forums. Representatives from state agencies gave brief presentations about the permitting process and took 12 formal public comments from individuals and organizations.

No meetings have been scheduled yet for the Bristol Bay region. However, any member of the public  may participate by webinar for the October 27 Bethel forum, or visit the state's Permitting Initiative web page to review information and submit comments. Comments received by the start of the next legislative session (January 17, 2012) would be especially appreciated. (See "How to Submit Your Comments" at the end of this article.)

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