House Holds Hearing on Proposed Pebble Mine

Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing titled “The Pebble Mine Project: Process and Potential Impacts,” which focused on the proposed Pebble Mine within the Bristol Bay area and the associated administrative environmental review process.

The Pebble Limited Partnership has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to obtain a permit to allow for the development of a multi-resource mine in the Iliamna region of Southwest Alaska. Also, in the region, there is an area known as Bristol Bay which is home to one of the largest and last unimpeded salmon migration and spawning habitats in the world. The Pebble Limited Partnership has applied to develop an open pit mine at a site known as the “Pebble deposit” that, according to the current application, would be in operation for a total of 20 years, mine a total of 1.4 billion tons of materials, and consist of pit dimensions of 6,800 feet in length, 5,600 feet in width, and 1,970 feet in depth. The salmon fishery is one of the largest salmon spawns and commercial, subsistence, and recreational fisheries in the world and is where more than 40 million salmon return every year to spawn. Currently, the Bristol Bay fishery is a $1.5 billion industry supporting over 14,000 jobs.

During the hearing, the Subcommittee heard from six different witnesses who represented different constituencies that would be impacted by development of the Pebble Mine, including those constituencies who support and oppose the mine.

Following the hearing, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and conservation partners attended a number of meetings with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members to urge support for a fair, transparent, and thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the ACOE. Before a federal permit is issued to proceed with mine development, the ACOE must complete an EIS, which is currently in draft stage. CSF recognizes this is an extremely complex and nuanced issue with significant ramifications to one of the world’s most prolific salmon fisheries, and accordingly, will continue to encourage relevant federal agencies and policy makers to move forward in a thorough and meticulous manner.

CSF and partners are waiting for the draft final EIS to be released from the Army Corps of Engineers.

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