Letter to the Editor: Force Pebble to pay up front for environmental costs

If Pebble doesn’t feel it’s worth this security account then they should NOT mine Bristol Bay.

Bristol Bay, Alaska, is an important salmon region but the proposed Pebble Mine directly threatens that region. The Army Corps of Engineers has dangerously fast-tracked Pebble, and the Environmental Protection Agency has recently removed important safeguards for Bristol Bay.

On Feb. 20, the Army Corps released the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Pebble — a toxic open-pit mine in Bristol Bay’s headwaters. Every agency involved has cut every scientific and statistical corner possible within Pebble’s permitting process. The EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the draft environmental impact statement for Pebble by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was “so inadequate” that they couldn’t figure it out.

On July 30, the EPA withdrew its proposed standards that would have protected Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act. Step by step, politics is overriding science instead of protecting Bristol Bay. This is how things work in Alaska. Public resources are eventually destroyed by big business because of the vast amount of cash involved. This cash eventually gets directed toward Alaska politicians and those politicians need that cash to remain in office. This is unfortunately how politics function in Alaska. Once great Alaska public resources are systematically destroyed over time because politicians need “big business cash” to remain in office. Beyond Pebble Mine, Alaska needs a statewide term limit for all its representatives, just to reduce its number of career politicians.

The flawed Pebble permitting process is being allowed to move forward at a dangerous pace. Then the House passed the Huffman amendment which would pause this permitting process and send Pebble back to the drawing board. This fall things move to the Senate and it’s imperative that Congress step up and ensure a thorough, comprehensive review to match this outstanding natural resource.

I do not believe it is possible to stop big business when billions of dollars in profits are possible. If you have enough money you will environmentally destroy anything in Alaska — that’s just the way it is and that is what will eventually happen with the Pebble Mine. Big business and big money will eventually buy off everyone involved and destroy the Bristol Bay Area along with the rest of Alaska. The only true solution to Pebble is to require a $50 billion bond payment upfront, which is actually capable of fixing Pebble’s future mess. That bond account should be a fixed permanent account much like Alaska’s Permanent Fund Account and be dedicated for only one purpose, future Pebble environmental problems.

If Pebble doesn’t feel it’s worth this permanent environmental security account then they should NOT try mining the Bristol Bay Area. Pebble wants to mine this area while only promising to clean up future environmental problems. They need a permanent $50 billion bond applied to them, which they cannot control and can only be used as insurance to protect Bristol Bay. Allowing open-pit mining in Bristol without that kind of a insurance policy would be environmental suicide.

— Donald Johnson, Soldotna

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