News Roundup: June 2017
We regularly compile news related to the proposed Pebble mine. Recent items range from Alaska Supreme Court legal findings to outreach efforts by the United Tribes of Bristol Bay.
Law 360 reports on the resolution of a court case tied to the 2014 ballot initiative, Bristol Bay Forever, which requires state legislators to approve a large-scale mine in Bristol Bay. The Alaska Miners Association, the Council of Alaska Producers and Richard Hughes had sought to block the ballot initiative. When they lost that effort, they were ordered to pay legal fees to the State of Alaska and three people who had intervened as defendants. After settling with the State, they still owed nearly $64,000. Alaska’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling, saying they were posing a constitutional question. As such, they would be considered “constitutional claimants,” exempt from paying attorneys’ fees. Read more in “No Attys’ Fees For Pebble Mine Foes, Alaska High Court Says” (Law 360, June 19, 2017).
‘Homework assignment’ — how Pebble lobbied Trump’s EPA (E&E News, June 12, 2017) describes emails between Pebble Limited Partnership’s (PLP) top lobbyist, Peter Robertson, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showing that the agency was open to suggestions from PLP on how it should proceed with talks to resolve litigation between the two entities. The emails were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request brought by the National Resources Defense Council. David Schnare, who briefly helped lead the EPA as part of the Trump Administration’s “beachhead team,” met and emailed with Robertson, and asked him for a “specific proposal on what we can and should do.” Schnare then briefed incoming EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Schnare has since resigned from the EPA. In May, the EPA announced a resolution to the litigation, which included an agreement to rescind its proposal to restrict large-scale mining in Bristol Bay.
Pebble Limited Partnership says it is looking for ways to collaborate with Alaska Native village corporations near its project site in Bristol Bay, and has contracted with a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, ASRC Energy Services Regulatory and Technical Services (AES), to help with that effort. “ASRC subsidiary partners with Pebble” (Arctic Sounder, June 16, 2017) quotes executives from both PLP and AES about the opportunity to engage local stakeholders. Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC), however, says that the agreement misrepresents local opinion in Bristol Bay, which is “overwhelmingly opposed to the project.” Read more: “Pebble and Native corporation team up, frustrating mine opponents” (Alaska Dispatch News, June 14, 2017)
United Tribes of Bristol Bay connects with the commercial fishing industry through “Sustaining Bristol Bay Fisheries,” a project focused on outreach activities to raise awareness and support for protecting the Bristol Bay fishery. SBBF efforts include informational flyers, a letter writing campaign to the EPA, and sales of shirts, hoodies, stickers and flags. Read more: “Advocates opposed to mining in Bristol Bay region ramp up summer outreach” (Alaska Public Media, June 21, 2017)