Will Obama “Keystone” Alaska’s Pebble Mine? You Betcha!

The Pebble Partnership has spent seven years and US$150 million compiling the Environmental Baseline Document (EBD) for one of the worlds largest gold an copper finds in Alaska. The report contains more than 27,000 pages of scientific data and analyses characterizing a broad range of environmental and social conditions in southwest Alaska – including climate, water quality, wetlands, fish and aquatic habitat, wildlife, land and water use, socioeconomics and subsistence. A couple highlights:

  • Field investigators collected wetlands data from 17,000+ sites in the project study area
  • More than 14,000 monthly groundwater level measurements were made in the project study area from 2004 to 2008
  • Since 2004, more than 50,000 hours have been spent collecting and processing surface hydrology data for the EBD
  • The EBD includes water quality data from 2004 through 2008
  • Water quality studies for the Pebble Project conducted from 2004 through 2008 collected more than 4,000 water quality samples, which in turn yielded more than 190,000 analytical results
  • As part of the EBD fish studies, more than 2,800 sites in the project study area were surveyed
  • As part of the EBD fish studies, more than 150 miles of stream habitat were characterized
  • As part of the trace element studies, there are 81,133 laboratory results

Research for the Pebble EBD was conducted by more than 40 respected independent research firms, utilizing over 100 scientific experts and engineering groups, laboratories and support services. Researchers were selected for their specific areas of expertise and Alaskan experience, with cooperating government agencies participating in several studies. Information for the EBD was gathered through field studies, laboratory tests, review of government records and other third-party sources, and interviews with Alaska residents.

Traditionally, the compilation of environmental studies undertaken in support of mine development in the United States is presented to regulatory agencies as part of a broader permitting package, which includes a Project Description. Given the importance of the Pebble Project, PLP made the decision to share its EBD with project stakeholders upon completion, in advance of project permitting.

With all that effort one would think that our government would welcome the opportunity to create jobs for Alaska natives. You’d be wrong – the Obama administration may very well be planning to “Keystone” the Pebble Project. Environmentalist and some Democratic lawmakers are urging the EPA to effectively close the mining operation before it is even fully proposed by claiming it would pollute groundwater, even though there’s no evidence of that. The EPA may be listening to Pebble opponents, but they don’t have time to meet with Alaska Natives who are in favor of the project.

Environmentalists would have you believe that the native fisheries and the mine cannot coexist; they don’t care at all about the local econmony. The reality for southwestern Native Alaskans is:

  • There are very few jobs available off-season in the region.
  • A gallon of milk in the region costs $9.00 – a steep price for even those with jobs.
  • The Pebble mine project helps these struggling communities by providing much-needed jobs and income for suffering families there.
  • The fishing industry (like Trout Unlimited and Save Bristol Bay) cares only about the ‘well-to-do’ of Seattle, not the local population.
  • Sport fishing is for elites with wealth unimaginable to most of the Native Alaskans living in small, rural villages.

Children are suffering; families are desperate. All these radicals want to do is paint a bogus argument of a choice between fish and mining jobs. Our country can have both. The native communities needs both.

Given what we know about the Obama administration, is there any doubt that they will try to “Keystone” this project? Visit Resourceful Earth to find out ways you can make your voice heard on this and other job creating projects that Obama and his allies want to stop.

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