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What Else To Say About Pebble Mine & Bristol Bay . . .

June 11, 2010

This is a guest blog from Alaska’s Jon Corbett – who owns and operates The Windmill Grille and has just started his own blog at http://greenalaska.blog.com/ – Check it out.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been asked several times about the lack of my writing about Pebble Mine recently. Let me throw that right back @ them in a different form. What else is there to write about? Let’s look at relevant topics as related to the Pebble Mine . . .

  1. State and Federal Permitting: Quite simply the facts are that both of these levels of permitting have shown themselves to be incapable of doing their damn jobs. The Alaska agency mainly responsible for interaction with the project developers has already fallen down on the job and allowed non-permitted water use and discharge and other incidents that were self-reported by Pebble Limited Partnership and “settled” the issue for $45K. I don’t think anyone has to reiterate the issues withing the former Minerals Management Service and the attitude inside that Federal agency towards destructive foreign corporations.
  2. Perpetual Existence and Risk: Unless these British not so-geniuses have developed a time machine, then they cannot argue the fact that the construction of a tailings damn cannot be done so as to insure the integrity of the structure FOREVER. There is absolutely no way for Anglo-American and it’s partners or the State Government of Alaska or the United States Federal Government can guarantee that the tailings damns and other structures will never have a negative impact upon the environment. How can you even calculate the value of the fishery for say another 1000 years, unless you do have proof that the future will see no harm come from the mine.
  3. Hard rock & Acid Sulfide Mining: Is just about as environmentally friendly as it sounds. It is a straight up, no moose squat fact that copper and gold mining in the manner that these guys are planning will produce millions upon millions of gallons of waste material that will be held in a huge man made pond. Once again, I throw out that unless these corporations and government entities have the time space continuum thing all sorted out and can prove it, then they need not apply for permission to build this monstrosity that will be dedicated to the legacy of some wealthy Englishman who could give a flying caribou about the consequences, remember that these are the guys that lobbied to create SuperFund Sites. So I will abandon the time jumping impossibility as their excuse for continuing to pursue this prospect and ask if they can show that they have built something of this magnitude in as natural a place without buggering it all up?
  4. Geology: The proposed area for the construction of the Pebble Prospect lies within a seismically active region. Due to the pure Science of earthquakes and volcanos, it is always impossible to predict the time and magnitude of seismic events. Sure the scientists can work out probability numbers with statistics and real time data, but not exact enough to guarantee the safety of the Bristol Bay and North Pacific fisheries. I can guarantee that if a seismologist stakes his career on saying that he can predict like that, then you are talking to an imbecile.
  5. Fishery Sustainability: I am going to quote directly from a e-mail that I received from an Alaskan gubernatorial candidate, “There is a duty under the Alaska Constitution to develop Alaska’s resources to the maximum benefit of Alaskans. This “maximum benefit” standard charges us to develop responsibly.” I can positively say that the fishery here in Bristol Bay has sustained life for well over a millennium and can continue to do so, IF we protect and preserve and PROmote it. This will not happen if the industrial scale developments in the prospect stage, such as Pebble, Super Chunk and Groundhog Mountain are allowed to place the fishery in perpetual risk.
  6. Cultural Genocide: This is a unique subject as it deals with some sensitive issues that these British folks don’t seem to give a damn about. So much so that the principal development company has been named in United Nations Human Rights reports and was even involved in some rather nasty politics in both Africa and New Guinea that resulted in military involvement and bloodshed. Their plan is to divide and conquer, just as any business model should be aimed at doing, but when it is on the scale of destroying the bonds on a community through bribery, deceit and disrespect to the ends of reducing the local population to a subservient state so that they can “come in a take over the region.”(John Shively, CEO Pebble Limited Partnership).
  7. American and Alaskan Sovereignty: This is an easy one to figure out, so easy that I can’t really believe that people are not more aware. Our State’s reliance upon foreign corporations to come in a develop resources so that ALASKA only gets a bare meager amount in return for a foreverness of destruction and pollution that we will be responsible for is disgusting. Since I left the time machine argument behind, I will return to SuperFunds. What is a superfund? Basically it is where the taxpayers are left holding the bag for the piss poor environmental practices of development companies. (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/). The development companies exploring various projects around Southwestern Alaska have already started some SuperFund Sites in other places, so why the fish should we welcome them to Alaska?
  8. Politics: I love this one, because it is just as flying squirrel obvious as the rest. Where to start? I know, first off, the Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources illegally restructured and re-wrote the Bristol Bay Area Plan to ease the development of mining and stripped the land designations to near nothing in order to avoid regulatory issues in the future. They restaffed with mining good ole’ boys and relegated the wildlife over site guys to having little or no say during reviews. The air in Juneau, despite the Independent Study fund is that the big guys rule the roost. Our former Governor worked as hard as she could to harm the chances of opposing the mine by publicly denouncing the proposition for Clean water and privately as well. Our current Governor is a supporter of the Pebble Project development and others, because of his fiscal short sightedness. The same rings true on the Federal level too, as the Alaskan DC Delegation have all come out in the last month arguing in favor of destructive projects by Foreign companies, and they won’t even acknowledge the Pebble Mine issue.
  9. Causation and Solutions: Here’s where the water gets a little murkier, in trying to figure out where these guys came from and why we are struggling to resist them. Back to conquer and divide on this one, as they have come into the communities closest to the project area and flash cash and promises that are awfully hard to resist during bad economic times. The fisherman and the communities that rely upon the fishery here have been hurting for a long, long time. After the Exxon Valdez spill, the entire Alaskan fishery took a huge hit and subsequently, foreign interests came in a bought up most of the local facilities and now take the Bear’s share of the money elsewhere while local fisherman have to file for State and Federal aid even now just to make it through a year. With so much of the money derived from Alaskan resources leaving the state, it’s no wonder we have near third world living conditions and worsening socio-economic issues throughout all of Alaska. So, solutions? Quickly it is evident that more money in local communities would help people resist selling out for pennies on the dollar. But cash infusions will only create another layer of dependence. Perpetuation of government aid is not the way to evolve into a sustainable society. True long range planning and realistic stepping stones must be established. The new endeavor being headed up by the Bristol Bay Native Association called Bristol Bay Vision seems at first to be something that is aimed at developing a plan for the future. What can we do? Participate and speak out in public forums and add what you can to make our region and State survive on its own.
  10. I can’t think of another, maybe I missed something . . . Anyone feel like offering up any ideas?

Quite simply, preaching to the choir gets tiring for both parties. Being bombarded with the same ole’ negative campaigning and images makes us immune to the severity of the situation. I believe that this also holds true of our Local, State and National elected officials. Pretty much everyone in Bristol Bay and around Alaska know of the dangers, but still the pursuit of hard rock mining and other development continues. What The Fish!?

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