Pebble appeals Army Corps rushed decision
Calls unprecedented negative decision inconsistent with FEIS North of 60 Mining News – January 22, 2021
Last updated 2/25/2021 at 3:20pm
Pebble Limited Partnership says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' negative record of decision for Pebble is contrary to law, unprecedented in Alaska, and inconsistent with the agency's previous final environmental impact statement for the proposed copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-rhenium mine.
"The FEIS found that the project can be developed without damage to the Bristol Bay fishery, a finding that was mostly ignored in the decision to deny Pebble a permit," said Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively.
As such, the Pebble Partnership has filed a request for appeal with the Army Corps Pacific Ocean Division, over the Alaska District's decision to deny the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for the proposed Pebble Mine.
"Following the decision by the USACE to issue a negative ROD for the Pebble Project, our team did a comprehensive review of the USACE documentation supporting their position. One thing became abundantly clear to us and that is the conclusions reached in the ROD are not supported by the record established in the final environmental impact statement for the project," Shively said. "The ROD also made it clear that the negative decision was rushed. The USACE rejected our compensatory mitigation plan a mere five days after it was received and without giving us an opportunity to address any of the issues listed, which showed that it was never given fair consideration. Additionally, there were several federal and state documents that were not complete before the ROD was issued."
Earlier this month, the state of Alaska said it will be appealing the Army Corps' decision to deny federal Clean Water Act permits for Pebble. The Alaska Department of Law said the state's appeal is being filed on the grounds Army Corps' Alaska District failed to follow its own guidance when setting mitigations measures for Pebble.
Following the July publication of a final environmental impact statement for Pebble, the Army Corps sent Pebble Partnership a letter detailing the need for "in-kind" and "in-watershed" mitigation for roughly 3,650 acres of wetlands and 185 miles of streams to be disturbed by mine development.
The disturbance-to-conservation ratio of mitigation demanded by Army Corps is unprecedented in Alaska, and contrary to the regulator's standard practice.
Pebble Partnership agrees with the state that this is inconsistent with guidance for Alaska, which has more intact wetlands than all the Lower 48 states combined.
"The ROD abandoned decades of precedent in how wetlands and resource projects in Alaska should be managed and regulated," Shively said. "We believe we have presented a strong case in our appeal and look forward the next steps in advancing this important mineral asset. Pebble contains a world-class resource that belongs to the people of Alaska and could bring much needed employment and economic activity for the region and the state."