Calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment inadequate, rushed and inaccurate, the Pebble Partnership Monday submitted comments and technical data to the EPA charging that the draft assessment is incomplete and fails on a scientific and a regulatory basis. Materials submitted by PLP, which include opinions and expertise from engineers, mining experts and international technical and environmental consulting firms, underscore the fundamental gaps in the process and omission of critical practices associated with 21st Century mining. Perhaps the most glaring issue is the hypothetical mine the EPA created on which to base its assessment – a mine that could not be permitted in the United States according to today’s rigorous regulatory standards.
Validating what has long been documented by the state of Alaska Economic Trends reports, southwest Alaska continues to struggle to maintain a stable economy due to a lack of year-round employment opportunities, one of the highest costs of living in the nation and seasonal local industries.
Results from the Pebble Environmental Baseline Document (EBD) socioeconomic studies in southwest Alaska verify downward economic trends previously reported by state agency groups throughout the past decade and recorded as part of Census studies from 1999 through 2009. The results from the five years of EBD studies confirm a general population decline in most areas, as well as a high cost of living and low year-round employment opportunities.
The Pebble Environmental Baseline Document (EBD), representing one of the most extensive environmental studies program ever conducted for a natural resource project in Alaska.
With nearly $2.5 million in grant monies distributed in Southwest Alaska throughout the past two years, The Pebble Fund continues its commitment to supporting sustainable development programs awarding eight projects funding for the fall 2010 distribution cycle.
The Pebble Limited Partnership released the following statement regarding the state’s lawsuit defending the permitting process for responsible natural resource development.
Alaska Growth Capital has selected five recipients as the initial winners of the newly established Bristol Bay Marketplace Competition. Developed in tandem by the Pebble Limited Partnership and the Pebble Fund, each of which contributed $250,000 to the program, the contest is designed to foster small business development in the Bristol Bay region. The competition, available to all Bristol Bay residents, encourages area entrepreneurs to compete for funding to develop, maintain or expand locally owned and locally based businesses.
Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth issued a 154-page decision in Nunamta Aulukestai v. State, finding that the State did not violate Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution in issuing temporary, revocable land and water use permits for mineral exploration at the Pebble Project. The plaintiffs, a group of eight Bristol Bay village corporations and several individuals, filed suit in July of 2009, alleging that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) permit issuance amounted to a disposal of interest in state lands that required public notice and preparation of a written best interest finding before the permits could be issued.
The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) issued the following statement regarding Monday’s court decision in favor of the State of Alaska in the Nunamata Aulukestai vs. State of Alaska, a case in which PLP intervened and was a participant throughout the litigation.
For 2011, the Pebble Limited Partnership work plan will focus on advancing a Prefeasibility Study (PFS) for the Pebble deposit. The company expects to complete its PFS in 2012, which will lay the groundwork to present a detailed project design for developing the mineral resource at the Pebble deposit.
The Pebble Partnership’s commitment to supporting the development of sustainable communities in Southwest Alaska continues with the Spring Pebble Fund grant cycle. Applications for the Spring grant cycle, which are due Feb. 28, 2011, by 9 p.m. Alaska Standard Time, are currently being accepted by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Local Anchorage teen James Barber has combined his passion for soccer with a community project designed to help him achieve Eagle Scout. Recently dedicated Anglo American Field is one of eight fields at the new Kincaid Park soccer complex to receive informational kiosks built by Barber.
Working in rural Alaska provides a unique set of ever-changing challenges. Weather, remote locations, minimal communication options and a lack of set transportation corridors in a harsh landscape make safety a constant concern. Wildlife, specifically a healthy bear population, make working in Southwest Alaska particularly dangerous in the area’s rugged terrain.
Remote terrain and dramatic weather patterns in Alaska can be a perilous combination, often changing quickly to create dangerous situations for those exposed to the elements. Response speed, coupled with safety, is critical and can mean the difference between life and death when responding to an emergency. Several times each year, the Pebble Partnership’s emergency training and safety expertise is accessed by state and federal agencies, and in some cases residents, to assist with various situations in the region such as rescues and medical emergencies.
The Colorado-based Keystone Center is poised to launch a series of independent science panels that will help Alaska citizens evaluate baseline environmental and socioeconomic studies associated with the proposed Pebble mine in southwest Alaska.
In support of the annual Alaska Run for Women, the Pebble Partnership organized and hosted a simultaneous satellite event June 12, 2010, in Iliamna, Alaska, to coordinate with the popular race that raises funds each June for breast cancer awareness. Seventy percent of the funds raised during this event stay in Alaska.
The Pebble Fund’s spring 2010 cycle of grants recognized 17 projects supporting sustainable communities in Southwest Alaska. Grants totaling $842,947 have been awarded to a wide-range of projects exhibiting vision and promoting growth of vital initiatives in the region.
The Pebble Partnership continues its partnership with the University of Alaska’s, (UA), Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) with a $75,000 donation, the second installment of a five-year annual commitment. Presented by Pebble Partnership CEO, John Shively, during a spring student luncheon, the cooperative education program provides long-term career path opportunities for Alaska Native students in the fields of science and engineering.
The Pebble Partnership has launched a series of survival seminars for staff, vendors and contractors at the proposed Pebble deposit site. Conducted by Learn to Return, the Arctic Indoctrination classes focus on skills and methods for addressing critical situations in the wilderness.
The Pebble Partnership is introducing a new scholarship program aimed at providing long-term career path opportunities for Alaska students in the fields of project management, operations, geology, science, engineering and other support roles related to responsible natural resource development.