August 2013

28 August 2013

EPA visit to Dillingham, Iliamna (photos)

dillinghamph1Head over to the Pebble Watch Facebook page to see photos of today's EPA visit to Bristol Bay. We've posted images of the gatherings in Dillingham and Iliamna.

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27 August 2013

EPA's McCarthy to visit Bristol Bay

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Gina McCarthy, recently appointed administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plans to visit the Bristol Bay area Tuesday, August 27, to view the site of the Pebble deposit and to speak with stakeholders who are interested in EPA's future decisions regarding the area.

She will appear at two meetings open to the public:

• Dillingham Middle School: 9:30-11 a.m.

• Iliamna Community Center: 3:30-5 p.m.

More details.

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27 August 2013

Recent videos feature Bristol Bay and the Pebble mine debate

hardtalkCheck out these recent videos/interviews about Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble mine:

  • EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is visiting Alaska this week. In this interview, she talks abouther visit to Bristol Bay. "EPA is not here to determine Alaska's future. I'm here to understand how people see their future." (Anchorage Daily News video)
  • “We Can’t Eat Gold,” a recent independent documentary by Joshua Tucker, won the Triangle Award at the Columbia Gorge Film Festival. This article in the Bristol Bay Times gives some background on how the film was produced. Check out its Facebook page for news on upcoming showings.
  • BBC HardTalk On the Road: Alaska – Pebble Mine. BBC’s Stephen Sackur asks tough questions of several people on both sides of the debate, including: John Shively, Robin Samuelson, Kim Williams, Lisa Reimers, Daniel Schindler, and Dennis McLerran.


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21 August 2013

New EPA Administrator to visit Bristol Bay

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August 23 update to this story: The Administrator's visit to Bristol Bay now includes a public meeting from 9:30-11 a.m. at Dillingham Middle School and from 3:30-5 p.m. at Iliamna Community Center.

Gina McCarthy, recently appointed administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plans to visit the Bristol Bay area Tuesday, August 27, to view the site of the Pebble deposit and to speak with stakeholders who are interested in EPA's future decisions regarding the area.

According to an article today in the online CQ Roll Call news site, McCarthy and other EPA representatives are planning stops in both Dillingham and Iliamna to "meet with tribal governments and other stakeholders interested in its Bristol Bay watershed assessment." An article that followed, on today's Anchorage Daily News website included comments on the visit from Pebble Limited Partnership, BBNC, and Iliamna Development Corp.

BBNC also issued a statement about the visit saying: "Bristol Bay Native Corporation is pleased that Administrator McCarthy has chosen to come to Bristol Bay in one of her first trips as head of the EPA. We believe her visit will confirm for her that Bristol Bay is unique and its protection must remain a top priority for the agency."

Earlier this month the Washington Post had reported on McCarthy's desire to see Bristol Bay personally, noting that she is aware of the intense interest associated with the proposed Pebble mine, as well as EPA's own Bristol Bay watershed assessment, scheduled to be finalized this year.

During the process of drafting the watershed assessment, EPA representatives visited Bristol Bay on multiple occasions, speaking with residents and gathering information about the area. Pebble Watch reported previously on their visits and their impressions of Bristol Bay.

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16 August 2013

Deadline for public comment on status of Lake Iliamna harbor seals

Lake Iliamna harbor seal status – Deadline: August 16, 2013

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) ruled on a petition that the Center for Biological Diversity had submitted last November, seeking an endangered or threatened species status for harbor seals that live in Iliamna Lake. NOAA Fisheries determined that there was enough scientific or commercial information to warrant further study on the seal population before making a determination. NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment until August 16, 2013.

Since the comment period overlaps with the summer subsistence and commerical fishing season, NOAA Fisheries has extended the deadline in response to a request from Bristol Bay Native Association/Bristol Bay Marine Mammal Council.

However, the agency could not extend its November 2013 deadline for the completed status review, so is encouraging the public to submit comments as early as possible to allow NOAA Fisheries "more time to review and incorporate the submitted information where appropriate."

Read the NOAA Fisheries news release.

Read more about Lake Iliamna harbor seals, including the original petition for endangered/threatened status.

Go directly to to submit your comments.

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09 August 2013

Free webinar hosted by the First Peoples Worldwide

"Engaging FPIC: Understanding, Interpretation and Self-determination"

The webinar begins at 7 a.m. Alaska Time and will focus on how Indigenous Peoples can hone their knowledge and skills about free, prior and informed consent and be better prepared to face the challenges of development in their communities.

More info


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08 August 2013

Learn about "free, prior and informed consent"



Last-minute notice: Got plans for tomorrow at 7 a.m.? This Friday -- United Nations' International Day of the World's Indigenous People --- the First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) organization is offering a free webinar on Free andPrior Informed Consent (FPIC). The announcement caught our eye here at Pebble Watch due to an article at Indian Country Today Media Network, which makes a direct connection between FPIC and the Pebble mine issue.

The webinar focuses "how Indigenous Peoples can hone their knowledge and skills about free, prior and informed consent and be better prepared to face the challenges of development in their communities." It will feature an online panel, with opportunities for questions/answers afterwards through online chat or their Twitter feed.

When: Friday, August 9 at 7 a.m. Alaska Time.

How: Preregister here

Learn more

Read more about FPIC in this article from Indian Country Today Media Network

Related: Watch UN TV live Friday, August 9, at 11 a.m. Alaska Time for events related the International Day of the World's Indigenous People

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02 August 2013

Subcommittee on Oversight discusses EPA Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

Screen shot 2013-08-02 at 2.33.16 PMHearings took place yesterday in Washington, D.C., regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Members of the Subcommittee on Oversight questioned witnesses about the agency's assessment and the proposed Pebble mine. We've included some statements from committee members and witnesses and will follow up next week with additional details.

Chair of the Committee, Rep. Broun (R-GA) said that he has serious questions about how a mine can co-exist with fish in Bristol Bay, noting that, "If the Pebble mine will harm the fisheries and environment as some believe, it should not be allowed." However, Broun also has reservations about EPA's action in regard to potential Pebble mine. "We must allow due process under the law to find the facts. Laws and facts should drive the decision." 

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) believes that EPA should complete its watershed assessment and promptly move to take up 404(c) in order to protect the Bristol Bay environment. "Even if the mining company can do what so far no mining company has ever done in a wet environment and dig a massive open pit mine that results in no leaks, no accidents, no pollution, who can guarantee that the massive amount of waste left behind in the tailings dam will not leach out or that the dam will not fail?" 

Lowell Rothschild, senior counsel, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, said that EPA is well within its authority to have undertaken the assessment. He provided testimony focused on the NEPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process as it relates to mining activity and how that process compares to assessments EPA undertakes under Clean Water Act Section 104(a) and (b), like the one for Bristol Bay. He noted that EPA's watershed assessment is more general and more limited than an (EIS) would be and covers far fewer subjects than an EIS would. The assessment is not intended to be a substitute for an EIS. There are examples of avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures that would be addressed in an EIS that are not addressed in the watershed assessment. Full written testimony.

Michael Kavanaugh, senior principal, Geosyntec Consultants, and member, National Academy of Engineering - Kavanaugh's company, Geosyntec, was retained by Northern Dynasty Minerals to conduct an independent technical review of EPA's Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. In their view, EPA's report fails to properly consider modern mining methods and lacks credibility as a useful risk analysis. The 2013 assessment fails to meet scientific standards that would permit it to be used to inform future decisions on mining projects in the Bristol Bay watershed. Full written testimony.

Wayne Nastri, Co-president, E4 Strategic Solutions; Former Regional Administrator, USEPA Region 9 - Nastri testified personally that he found the conclusions of the EPA's Bristol Bay watershed assessment to be sound and, if anything, conservative. He submitted an independent letter signed by 300 scientists who are supportive of EPA's process. In his view, EPA needs to finalize its assessment and address the original request (from federally recognized tribes) for 404(c) action. At the very least, it should use its Clean Water Act authority to restrict any 404 discharge. Nastri noted that it is important for EPA to act soon in order to alleviate frustration and anxiety in Bristol Bay communities, as well as social impacts on youth and negative effects on other investment opportunities in the area. Full written testimony.

Daniel McGroarty, President, American Resources Policy Network - McGroarty's group is dedicated informing the American public and American policy-makers of the importance of U.S. resource development. He believes the EPA's assessment fails regarding the validity and impartiality of its source material, and that decisions about permitting the proposed Pebble mine should be left to the NEPA process. "We have a process in place to determine whether a mine should or shouldn’t be built. We should follow that process – to lead us to a policy based on science, and projects made better by the even-handed scrutiny they receive." Full written testimony. 

Learn more

This "hearing charter" gives some background on the topics addressed at the hearing. 

Watch the archived proceedings.

Read this news report about the hearing.



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