Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File                                 In this file photo from June 25, 2019, Judy Cavanaugh stands with others at a rally against the Pebble Mine in front of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Juneau office.

Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File In this file photo from June 25, 2019, Judy Cavanaugh stands with others at a rally against the Pebble Mine in front of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Juneau office.

Final impact statement for Pebble Mine delayed for three months

Army Corps of Engineers says it will take the time to review public comments

The Army Corps of Engineers recently announced it would extend the deadline for its final Environmental Impact Statement for the Pebble Mine project a further three months.

The EIS was set to come out in early 2020 but the Corps announced in a press conference Monday that date would be extended to late June or early July 2020, Alaska Public Media reported.

Comments released by the Environmental Protection Agency in July said the Corps’ draft EIS “underestimates adverse impacts” to water and air quality, among other areas. The comments also recommend the Corps provide “significant additional information” about key components of the proposed plan.

EPA’s comments were noted by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who in July said she felt the EPA’s comments were substantial and well-made. Her concerns were codified in an appropriations bill coming out of the Senate Interior Subcomittee, of which Murkowski is chair.

“Sound science must drive the permitting process and that if the concerns raised by the agencies cannot be answered within the process, then the agencies should exercise their authority to protect the region’s world-class salmon fisheries,” Murkowski’s website says of the bill.

The EPA has the ability to veto a permit issued by the Corps if it decides the project would ultimately be harmful to the environment.

In its announcement Monday, the Corps said it would not be conducting additional fieldwork nor issuing a supplement to its draft EIS.

The move drew criticism from opponents of the Pebble Mine project who accused the Corps of trying to cover up bad work.

“The Corps did a lousy job on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and is now scrambling to pick up the pieces,” Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited, a fisheries conservation group, said in a press release.

“The Corps is reaching for Band-Aids when the patient needs a heart transplant,” Williams said.

The delay comes just days after a CNN report detailing close coordination between Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Pebble Partnership, the company seeking to build the mine.

CNN reported Dec. 19 it had received a number of emails allegedly showing Pebble “coaching” Dunleavy in how to promote the project to President Donald Trump and federal agencies.

Dunleavy and the Pebble Partnership have said it’s normal for administrations to consult with industry groups regarding potential projects, and that the governor was supportive of the environmental review process.

EPA’s comments make a number of recommendations for supplemental information to remedy what it calls “data gaps” in the DEIS.

Newman told reporters Monday the Corps would be using the additional time to respond to concerns raised during the public comment period. The Corps will decide to issue its permit following release of the final EIS, according to the project website.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores increases to its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly to discuss short-term rental tax on Tuesday

The resolution describes a proposed tax of up to 12%

Photo provided by Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula
The Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula team stands together for a photo during the Summer State Games in Anchorage.
Area athletes claim 45 medals at Special Olympics Alaska Summer Games

The Central Peninsula team fielded 17 local athletes in the competition

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19 in Juneau.
Ruffridge talks successes, unfinished business after freshman session in Juneau

Ruffridge is up for election this year, facing a challenger in former-Rep. Ron Gillham

Homer, Seldovia to celebrate summer solstice

Events will be held starting June 20

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slow sockeye fishing at Russian River, good rainbow trout at Kenai Lake

A Northern Kenai Fishing Report published by the State Department of Fish… Continue reading

Council member James Baisden speaks in favor of an amendment to the City of Kenai’s budget that would add funds for construction of a veteran’s memorial column in the Kenai Cemetery during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai budget amendment allocates funds for veterans’ columbarium in cemetery expansion

A columbarium is an aboveground structure that houses cremated remains

Council member Alex Douthit speaks in favor of an amendment to the CIty of Kenai’s budget that would reduce funds allocated to the Storefront and Streetscape Improvement Program during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Funding reduced for City of Kenai’s storefront improvement grant program

Just over a year after the City of Kenai established its Storefront… Continue reading

Most Read