OPINION: Pebble document source needs to be considered
As leaders of Alaska-based organizations representing the interests of Bristol Bay residents, commercial fishermen, and sportsmen throughout the state, we want to provide some perspective on the unveiling of the "Environmental Baseline Documents" by the Pebble Limited Partnership in a series of presentations that will be occurring across our region over the coming weeks and months.
As PLP moves to hold these "factual conversations," it's critical to note that Pebble's reports do nothing to help generate the needed discussion about protecting the headwaters of important salmon and other fresh water fish habitat.
The known facts of this proposed project remain the same: It is a giant and diffuse sulfide ore body in a seismically active zone beneath the salmon-rich headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak drainages.
Any project to develop the ore body at Pebble puts the Bristol Bay basin's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the region's world-class salmon fishery at risk.
We do not believe that the recent document released and presented by PLP changes this conclusion in any way.
First, note that the information in the baseline document was conducted by groups paid entirely by the Pebble Limited Partnership. Although they may use skilled and educated contractors to conduct the research, at the end of the day, PLP controls what studies are done, what questions get asked, and which elements of studies they want to publicize. The material presented should be viewed as being understandably tilted in favor of development. It is only natural that this should be the case. Again, the Pebble Partnership pays the contractors creating and presenting the information.
The data in these studies is not peer reviewed, nor are the studies replicable based on the information provided. The studies were funded by the developing corporations, and therefore reflect the strategic needs and desires of PLP.
Furthermore, these documents do not contain accessible data or raw data but instead the information is couched in 27,000 pages of interpretation. The format of the document disregards requests from agencies and stakeholders for data, not opinions.
From what we've seen thus far, the findings put forth by these foreign mine developers do little to quell the concerns of the thousands of Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, corporations, sportsmen and others who oppose development of Pebble because of the unacceptable risks associated with this project.
Kimberly Williams, Executive Director of Nunamata Aulukestai, 907-843-0875
Bob Waldrop, Executive Director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development, 907-223-1588
Tim Bristol, Director of Trout Unlimited Alaska, 907-321-3291