News Roundup – September 2018

Permitting Updates

USACE releases summary on scoping report

Elwood Brehmer at the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported earlier this month that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a summary of the topics the public wants studied relating to the proposed Pebble mine. The summary is one step toward the agency’s environmental impact statement on the latest mine proposal.

The Corps receive nearly 175,000 comments during a 90-day scoping period, the Journal reported. (You can find many of these comments and a host of other information about the project and the EIS on the Corps’ Pebble Project website.)

The Anchorage Daily News’ Alex DeMarban had comments from supporters and opponents.

Bottom line: opponents say the report glosses over some major issues, while supporters appreciate the progress toward permitting.

Keep watch on the USACE Pebble Project EIS site

For those interested in the proposed Pebble mine project, it may be a good idea to keep a close eye on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pebble Project EIS webpage, where you can sign up for email notifications from the Corps and review comments and documents. USACE posts regular updates and documents on this site, all related to its progression on findings related to the proposed mine.

In September alone, the site has added documents stating it has issued requests for information related to Effluent Discharges, Mine Site Equipment Noise, Cultural Resources Survey Data and Scenario for Expanded Development of Pebble. These are indicators of information to come.

Also keep an eye on the Project Library section, where you can see data that has been reviewed for the EIS, Pebble Mine Site Operations Water Management Plan, a response to RFI 055 – Pyritic Tailings Storage Facility, and a range of studies on wildlife.

Another site to keep watching is the Alaska Division of Mining, Land and Water’s Pebble Project page.


Agency News

EPA expected to submit rule to limit veto power by year-end

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on a regulation to limit the agency’s ability to stop water pollution permits — pre-emptive and retroactive vetoes, according to a story from Ariel Wittenberg and Dylan Brown of E&E News. The work is the result of the limits outlined in a June memo from Scott Pruitt, former EPA administrator.

Reporters Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis of the Washington Post reported in late June that Pruitt directed agency staff to write a rule that limits the EPA’s authority to preemptively halt projects on the grounds that projects would pollute waterways. The Post had noted that it could take a year or more to finalize changes to how the EPA exercises its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

EPA is expected to submit the proposed rule to the White House for review by the end of December.

Acting EPA Administrator to recuse himself on Pebble issues?

When Scott Pruitt resigned as EPA administrator July 6, after months of controversies, he was replaced by Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist. While it was expected that Wheeler would continue Pruitt’s ideals when it comes to the proposed Pebble Mine, it’s now possible that he could recuse himself from decisions pertaining to development of the Pebble deposit. According to a story by Dylan Brown and Ariel Wittenberg in E&E News, Wheeler was employed with Faegre Baker Daniels when it arranged “a key meeting between Pebble and former EPA chief Scott Pruitt.”

Alaska officials may be able to veto Pebble mine

Longtime resources reporter Tim Bradner had a story in the Anchorage Press noting that state officials may have the authority to veto the controversial mine, regardless of EPA and other federal government finagling.

The newly elected governor will have a major hand in the approval, or disapproval, of regulatory and permit decisions, Bradner says.


Save the Date

Pacific Marine Expo

The Pacific Marine Expo is scheduled for Nov. 18-20 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Hosted by National Fisherman, the expo is a free conference that offers product demos, a forecast breakfast, and an update on the proposed Pebble mine.

Find a link and more information at National Fisherman.


Bristol Bay News

See the new members of the Bristol Bay Advisory Group

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources in early August announced 11 new members who will join the Bristol Bay Advisory Group. Members provide input on land use and management for the Bristol Bay region. The first meeting is expected in the fall. DNR re-established the group earlier this year.

See the full list here.

Read more about the newly appointed members on KDLG.

Recall: See Mining News North’s story on the group’s re-boot.


CNN reports on Alaska’s battles over land, sea and life

CNN’s Bill Weir spent some of his summer in Alaska, traveling to several battleground areas, including to the Bristol Bay region to discuss the proposed Pebble mine.

Weir showcased ANWR and Pebble. Get comfortable and read/watch.


Opposition News

Bob Gillam, major anti-Pebble supporter, dies

Bob Gillam, among Alaska’s wealthiest residents, died Sept. 12 from complications related to a stroke. Gillam was a founder of an investment management firm, but was well-known as a stanch opponent of the proposed Pebble mine. He was 72.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that Gillam suffered a serious stroke while at home in Anchorage on Tuesday, Sept. 11. He died after a short stay in the hospital. Gillam, who owned a home in the Bristol Bay region’s Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, has over the years contributed millions of dollars toward a variety of efforts to stop the mine, including supporting local and statewide ballot measures to make the project more difficult to develop.

Read the story from Alex DeMarban at the Anchorage Daily News.

See KTUU’s story

Read the obituary for Robert Bryon Gillam