The Corps of Engineers is currently working on its Record of Decision for the Pebble project. This is the final step in the federal permitting process under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
Several components must be in place before the Corps can reach the decision. Two of these include public comment periods currently underway.
State of Alaska Water Quality Certification – Deadline August 24
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is determining whether to grant water quality certification for the Pebble project. In doing so, it needs to determine whether the project meets requirements of the Clean Water Act, the Alaska Water Quality Standards and “other applicable State laws.”
What will DEC consider in making its decision?
According to Randy Bates, Director of the DEC’s Division of Water, the agency will consider the following as part of its decision on water quality certification:
- Pebble Limited Partnership’s permit application (updated June 8, 2020)
- The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) developed by the Army Corps of Engineers and released on July 24, 2020.
- Other documents issued by the Army Corps of Engineers (not specified by DEC)
- Comments received in the public process
What action may DEC take?
The Department may certify, certify with conditions, deny, or waive certification of the proposed project.
What resources are available for understanding water quality guidelines/issues?
In addition to the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the Pebble permit application, readers can consult applicable federal and state regulations.
- Alaska State Water Quality Standards 18 AAC 70 (revised March 2020)
- Clean Water Act §401 (revised June 2020)
- Pebble permit application
- FEIS Section 3.18 Water Quality and Sediment – existing conditions
- FEIS Appendix K3.18 Water Quality and Sediment – detailed information
- FEIS Section 4.18 – impacts to surface water, groundwater and sediment
- FEIS Appendix K4.18 Water Quality and Sediment – detailed information on impacts to surface water, groundwater and sediment
DEC is asking for public comments that include “a concise statement related to water quality, and the relevant facts upon which the comment is based. Comments of support or concern which are directed at or based upon specific and cited authorities are appreciated.”
Deadline: August 24
Email your comment to: email@example.com
Or mail to:
Department of Environmental Conservation
555 Cordova St.
Anchorage, AK 99501-2617
Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and reference Public Notice reference number: POA-2017-00271, Multiple Waterbodies
Submitted comments will be available to the public as part of this process.
National Historic Preservation Act – Deadline August 24
Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, historic properties must be identified as part of the federal permitting process. The proposed Pebble mine may have an effect on historic properties that have been identified through cultural resources surveys. The Army Corps of Engineers has drafted a programmatic agreement (PA) that “would direct the identification, evaluation, and assessment of effects to historic properties, as well as resolution of adverse effects to historic properties which would occur as a result of the work under the requested permit.”
Cultural resources that have been identified in Pebble Project’s Area of Potential Effect (APE) include battleground sites, trails, traplines, burial sites, harvest locations and more.
The Corps is seeking comments on the 136-page Draft PA, which includes a Cultural Resources Management Plan with details such as avoidance and minimization procedures, and how Pebble employees would be trained in cultural resource awareness.
Once finalized, the PA would be in effect for 24 years, and would be reviewed annually.
Submit your comments, postmarked by August 24, to:
Post Office Box 6898
JBER, Alaska 99506-0898
Be sure to include Public Notice Reference Number: POA-2017-00271