February 2013

28 February 2013

Congressmen weigh in on EPA watershed assessment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been taken to task in Washington, D.C., during the last several months by U.S. senators who are critical of the agency's decision to conduct a watershed assessment of Bristol Bay. Most recently, Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss), of the Environment and Public Works Committee, called for EPA to retract its draft watershed assessment and rely on the permitting process to determine if large-scale mining is acceptable in Bristol Bay.

According to an article by E & E News of Washington, D.C., Alaska Sen. Mark Begich has spoken in favor of the EPA being able to finalize the assessment, which the agency has said it will do by fall of this year. "I think EPA has to finish out their process, and we'll see where it lies from there," Begich is quoted as saying. "They started it. We should let the process finish, and then we'll see where the information lies."

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28 February 2013

Pebble Partnership rolls out new website

pebblewebPebble Limited Partnership (PLP) launched a new design of its website earlier this week in an attempt to reach out to stakeholders.

"We wanted to present a more engaging and conversational site to help communicate about Pebble," said Mike Heatwole, vice president, public affairs. "This is a complex project and our goal is to help interested stakeholders understand as much as possible about it. The web site is one way we hope to accomplish it."

The site, still found at www.pebblepartnership.com, features colorful photos, a conversational tone, and prominently highlighted quotes in a blog-like format. Topics include the importance of copper and other metals in the development of civilization, state and national economics, the mine plan, permitting and more. 

Readers who want more detail than what's available at this site can still access www.pebblescience.org, which links to PLP's Environmental Baseline Studies. 

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22 February 2013

Update: Alaska permitting bills moving quickly

Bills introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell last month designed to streamline permitting are moving quickly through the legislative process, as detailed in an article that appeared yesterday in the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Pebble Watch recently reported on Senate bills 26 and 27, and House bills 77 and 78, as they have potential to impact permitting and development on the proposed Pebble mine.

Status: Senate bills 26 and 27 are on the agenda for discussion by the Senate Finance Committee, Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 9 a.m. House bills 77 and 78 have been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Full Alaska Journal of Commerce article

Pebble Watch post describing the bills

Documents related to these bills, including letters in support and opposition

Proceedings and testimony from recent committee meetings regarding the bills:

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06 February 2013

EPA to allow public comments on new version of Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been revising its draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment and plans to release it for public and peer review sometime this spring. EPA had previously stated that the revision would be reviewed by scientists, but is responding to public interest by opening up another public input period for the document. The first public comment period, held during May through July 2012, garnered more than 230,000 comments.

EPA conducted the watershed assessment "to determine the significance of Bristol Bay’s ecological resources and evaluate the potential impacts of large-scale mining on these resources." EPA has authority under the Clean Water Act to invoke a 404(c) ruling that could curtail or limit development in the area, which is one reason for the intense public, industry and environmental interest in the document.

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