The merits of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay – the headwaters for one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries – are being debated in the state Capitol.
The Pebble Partnership’s 20-year plan for its planned copper mine is under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On Monday the House Resources Committee heard from the project’s critics, who say any mine in the area represents a threat to one of the state’s most valuable and abundant renewable resources.
Critics have called the study incomplete with “tenuous assumptions,” and a failure for assuming “no important cumulative risks.” They say it also “dismisses many environmental risks, including the risk of a tailings dam failure,” thereby jeopardizing one of the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fisheries.
“In a nutshell Alaskans should be dismayed; Alaska’s leaders should be outraged,” said University of Washington biologist Daniel Schindler, who has been a lead researcher with the university’s Alaska Salmon program, which has been place since the 1940s.
“The Army Corps of Engineers should be ashamed of themselves and embarrassed if they are going to put this environmental impact statement forward as a piece of credible science,” he said. “It is not.”
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