News Roundup: May 14

Yes for Salmon status: In the courts

Laine Welch follows the money on who is backing and opposing the Yes for Salmon ballot initiative. Welch, well-known as Alaska’s fisheries reporter, noted that the group Stand for Alaska has raised more than $2 million to oppose the ballot, 10 times the amount raised by the grassroots pro-initiative group Yes for Salmon. All of the money spent on the ballot initiative may be focusing on a non-issue. The Alaska Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in late April, and is expected to rule on the initiative before September, with enough time to get it on the November ballot – or not.

See the details – and the main funders – at Sit News.

If you really want to dig in to the details, search the Alaska Public Offices Commission reports.


DNR renews Pebble MLUP for one year

KDLG’s Avery Lill reports that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources has renewed Pebble’s Miscellaneous Land Use Permit (MLUP) for a year, allowing for drilling and other activities related to development planning and resource modeling.  Site inspections will continue, and Pebble Limited Partnership will again have to put up a $2 million bond for site cleanup.

For the first time in five years, the state DNR also approved new exploration in the area, authorizing geotechnical drilling up to 80 boreholes.

Read the full story here.

New Bristol Bay Advisory Group to review Bristol Bay Area Plan

DNR announced it will reestablish the Bristol Bay Advisory Group to review and possibly recommend changes to the Bristol Bay Area Plan.  Shane Lasley of North of 60 Mining News noted the DNR will solicit applications for advisors, and schedule a public meeting in the Bristol Bay region to gather input on the scope of the advisory group.

USACE addresses critics of its Pebble processes

Elizabeth Harball of Alaska’s Energy Desk wrote about how the agency has addressed criticism of the environmental review processes relating to the Pebble mine. In a call to reporters April 12, Sheila Newman, the regulatory division deputy chief with the Army Corps’ Alaska District, acknowledged that only rarely has her agency denied a permit for a project (she added that most applicants withdraw before a negative decision), but noted that Pebble is “not an average project proposal,” Harball writes.

Newman discussed the controversy behind the project, and some confusion and poor word choices that may have added to the criticism.

Read and listen to the full story on Alaska Public Media.

Save the Dates

May 31 – New deadline for the finalization of an agreement between Pebble developer Northern Dynasty Minerals and permitting funder First Quantum Minerals Ltd. The deadline has already been extended twice as the two parties settle on terms.

June 28 – Northern Dynasty Minerals will hold its Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) of Shareholders at 2 p.m. PDT.

June 29 – Last day to comment during the scoping process for the Pebble mine permit application.