Pebble mine news roundup: April 11

Recent Pebble news focuses on presentations the Pebble Limited Partnership has made about its Environmental Baseline Document, as well as the State of Alaska’s request for the EPA to stop working on its own Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

“Reply to Alaska AG Geraghty” (April 11, 2012 – Homer Tribune)
Dennis McLerran, Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator for Northwestern States, has declined the Alaska Attorney General’s request to suspend the agency’s Bristol Bay watershed assessment. McLerran wrote that the assessment is not a regulatory action, but an important step to understanding the value of and risk to the Bristol Bay resource in advance of considering permits that would be required to proceed with large-scale mining development. He pledged cooperation with the state, and wrote that after the draft assessment is released in May, public meetings to discuss it will begin in June. There also will be a public meeting in Anchorage in August with the Peer Review Panel.
Read the entire response in the Homer Tribune.

“Who has authority to assess Pebble Mine risks: Alaska or EPA?” (April 10, 2012 – Alaska Dispatch, reprinted in its entirety from a March 30, 2012 web post by the Cordova Times: “State Objections rise on EPA Bristol Bay watershed assessment”)
Some 77 groups from Alaska and elsewhere in the U.S. signed a March 28th letter asking the Obama Administration to have the Environmental Protection Agency assess the Bristol Bay watershed to determine if it should be placed under strict protections offered by the federal Clean Water Act. But Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty, in a March 9th letter to the EPA, asserted the agency is acting prematurely, and lacks the authority to do an assessment before the Pebble Partnership applies for permits. He asked for a halt to EPA’s work on the assessment.
Read the entire document in the Alaska Dispatch or in Cordova Times.

“Science bought, not revised” (April 8, 2012 – Peninsula Clarion)
This is another account of the public meeting in Homer, in which Pebble Partnership consultants presented an overview of the Environmental Baseline Document. The story focuses in part on questions from the attendees, including some about the authenticity of the consultants’ work and whether the mine could be developed without endangering the rich Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery. The consultants and the Partnership’s spokesman said the scientific work was thorough and straightforward, and not influenced by Partnership management.
Read the entire article in the Peninsula Clarion.

“Seismologist at WAISC Pebble forum raises concerns” (April 5, 2012 – KDLG, Dillingham Public Radio)
This account from the Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference held in Dillingham in late March centers on the testimony of a geologist who questions the conclusions about seismic hazard issues in the Pebble Partnership’s Environmental Baseline Document. He said he finds much of the science in the document well done, but is concerned that its conclusion that earthquakes pose no risk to the proposed mine’s huge earthen tailings pond is based more on optimism than scientific evidence. No response from either the Partnership or scientists involved in that section of the document was included in the story.
Listen to the entire story at

“Pebble approaches permitting” (April 4, 2012 – Homer Tribune)
Consultants for the project conducted a meeting at city hall March 30 to discuss components of the recently released Environmental Baseline Document. About 45 people attended; local biologists, commercial fishermen and a geologist were among those posing detailed questions to the consultants about their findings.
Read the entire article in the Homer Tribune.

“Pebble holds meetings on environmental data” (March 30, 2012 – Peninsula Clarion)
This is a story written in advance of another of the public meetings on Pebble’s Environmental Baseline Document conducted by the Partnership and some of its science consultants. A Pebble spokesman is quoted saying the meeting would be an opportunity to pose questions directly to some of the scientists who worked on the about the study. Opponents of the prospective mine were quoted as well, saying it would still pose a risk to the Bristol Bay fishery, regardless of the huge volume of research done beforehand.
Read the entire story in the Peninsula Clarion.