Leg With Louie: Why the Rush, Pebble?

The federal environmental review of Pebble mine is an obvious rush job and Pebble is throwing millions and millions of lobbying dollars on the dumpster fire of politics in order to ensure the mine receives its critical federal permits before the 2020 presidential election.

Alaska departments charged with reviewing the Pebble Mine Environmental Impact Statement have already been cut to the bone financially and have inadequate staff resources to devote to state agency review and participation in the federal EIS process. Agency Commissioners appointed by Governor Mike Dunleavy tell us by rote that their role in the federal review is robust and meaningful, but ask any agency staff lower down the totem pole and they will tell you otherwise. The Pebble EIS is subject to 90 days of public review. State agencies were given two weeks to provide official agency review comments.

The Alaska State Legislature wields significant power to review this proposal and should start today. Legislative committees can hold overview hearings, request documents, order expert analysis, even subpoena witnesses to testify. The Legislature can ask to hear directly from the federal agency staff who put the EIS together. They can require agency staff from our state resource agencies to testify. They can shine a light on the political means by which this project is advancing.

The Alaska State Legislature is required by law to approve or deny Pebble. AS 38.05.142 states that, “in addition to permits and authorizations otherwise required by law, a final authorization must be obtained from the legislature for a large-scale metallic sulfide mining operation located within the watershed of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve…”  A series of in-depth hearings on the federal EIS this spring will help build up a legislative record well in advance of any future Pebble vote. If it is made clear in these hearings that money and politics trumped science and public sentiment, that may give legislators cause to vote no.

These hearings will expose the deep inadequacies of the EIS project risk and impact review and the woeful lack of time and resources given to our own under-funded state agency staff to process and respond. They will also serve to highlight and clarify to the public impacts that are being predicted and likely being underestimated in the EIS including but not limited to the permanent loss of over 3,500 acres of wetlands, and 80 miles of stream in the current project footprint.

Let’s get to work.

Louie Flora
Government Affairs Director

Fight Pebble Mine

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Hearings to watch this week

Monday, March 4th, 1:00 p.m. House Resources Committee – Confirmation Hearing: Corri Feige, Commissioner-appointee, Department of Natural Resources

SJR 7 ENDORSING ANWR LEASING; RELATED ISSUES

Monday, March 4th, 3:30 p.m. Senate Resources Committee – Confirmation Hearing: Jerry Burnett, Board of Game Presentation: Building Alaska’s Blue Economy – Alaska’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences

Tuesday, March 5th, 8:00 a.m. House Community and Regional Affairs Committee – Confirmation Hearing: Regulatory Commission of Alaska

Tuesday, March 5th, 10:00 a.m. House Finance ADF&G Subcommittee – Fiscal Outlook and Departmental Budget Overview

Tuesday, March 5th, 10:15 a.m. House Special Committee on Energy – Presentation: Power Cost Equalization program

Tuesday, March 5th, 11:00 a.m. House Special Committee on Fisheries – Presentation: Building Alaska’s Blue Economy – Alaska’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences

Tuesday, March 5th, 11:15 a.m. House Finance DEC Subcommittee – Fiscal Outlook and Departmental Budget Overview

Tuesday, March 5th, 2:00 p.m. Senate Finance University of Alaska Subcommittee – Budget Overview

Tuesday, March 5th, 3:30 p.m. Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee – Confirmation Hearing: Dan Sullivan, Regulatory Commission of Alaska

Wednesday, March 6th, 9:00 a.m. Senate Finance Committee – Economic Overview of Governor’s proposed budget

Wednesday, March 6th, 12:00 p.m. House Finance DNR Subcommittee Overview, DNR budget by Legislative Finance Division

Wednesday, March 6th, 12:00 p.m. – Lunch and Learn: “Outdoors means business” by Confluence Alaska

Wednesday, March 6th, 1:00 p.m. House Resources Committee – SJR 7 ENDORSING ANWR LEASING; RELATED ISSUES. Presentation: Outdoor recreation in Alaska, Confluence Alaska

Wednesday, March 6th, 1:30 p.m. House Finance Committee – Economic Impact Analysis of the Governor’s fiscal plan

Wednesday, March 6th, 3:30 p.m. Senate Resources Committee – Presentation: Outdoor Recreation in Alaska is Open for Business, Confluence Alaska

Thursday, March 7, 8:00 a.m. House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs – Presentation: Alaska Native Governance

Thursday, March 7th, 9:00 a.m. Senate Finance Committee – Economic Overview of Governor’s Proposed Budget – ISER

Thursday, March 7, 10:00 a.m. House Special Committee on Fisheries – Confirmation Hearing – Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner appointee ADFG

Thursday, March 7, 1:30 p.m. House Finance Committee – Presentation: Alaska Economic Outlook – ISER

Thursday, March 7, 5:00 p.m. House Finance University of Alaska Subcommittee – Overview: University’s FY20 operating budget

Friday, March 8, 12:00 p.m. House Finance DNR Subcommittee – DNR budget overview

Friday, March 8, 1:20 p.m. House Resources Committee Confirmation Hearing: Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner Appointee ADFG.  Confirmation Hearing: Board of Game

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