News roundup: Pebble project update and EPA watershed assessment news

In this week’s round-up, news reports say Pebble will go to permitting by year-end, an EPA confirmation hearing brings attention to the cost of the Bristol Bay watershed assessment–and EPA tells one Bristol Bay community that it can not retract a report submitted for that assessment.

“Finishing plan top priority for Pebble”

The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) continues to focus on completing its mine plan in a move toward starting permitting by the end of this year, according to an article by Tim Bradner in the Alaska Journal of Commerce. The draft plan will have three main parts: engineering/feasibility, environment, and economics. Bradner’s article highlights PLP’s shift from exploration to engineering, noting reductions in the number of drill rigs and crew operating this summer, as well as a lower budget ($80 million this year compared to $112 million in 2012.)

Read the full article (Alaska Journal of Commerce)

E&E news interview with Pebble CEO John Shively

In an E&E news report from earlier this summer, Manuel Quinones quotes Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively saying there’s a good chance the project will move into the permitting phase by the end of this year. Shively also comments on the EPA Bristol Bay watershed assessment and the nomination of Gina McCarthy as the new EPA administrator.

Read the full article (E&E news, as reprinted by

EPA personnel hearings bring out details regarding its watershed assessment

Earlier this week Ken Kopocis answered questions about the EPA’s Bristol Bay watershed assessment during a confirmation hearing for his nomination to become assistant administrator of the agency’s water office. During the hearing, Kopocis noted that EPA had spent $2.4 million so far on the assessment. A previous letter to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from EPA’s acting water chief Nancy Stoner reiterated the agency’s commitment to completing the document, stating that it is in the best interest of all stakeholders in Alaska.

Read the E&E article on EPA hearings  (E&E news, as reprinted by

Comments on EPA watershed assessment final

A recent Associated Press article highlighted the fact that public comments to the EPA are final once the official public input period is closed. On July 2, the Iliamna Village Council asked to retract a report it had submitted along with its comments to the EPA. According to an Associated Press article, professor emeritus at Colorado School of Mines Donald Macaldy was contracted by the village corporation to prepare an analysis of the EPA’s Bristol Bay watershed assessment, and his report suggested broad impacts from proposed Pebble development. The Iliamna Village Council has voted to rescind the comments; EPA says they will remain part of the public record.

Read the full article. (AP, as run in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Read Macalady’s report