With the 90-day public comment period now underway through May 30 on the US Army Corps of Engineers draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Pebble mine, Alaska legislators are calling for a longer comment period.
Twenty members of the Alaska House of Representatives have signed a letter to the USACE requesting an extension, saying that given the significant impacts the Pebble Project would have on Bristol Bay, Alaskans should have at least 270 days to comment.
“The Pebble project would have far-reaching impacts on both the commercial and the subsistence economies of the region,” the letter reads. “It is, arguably, the most important proposed Alaska project of our time. Alaskans deserve a fair chance to weigh in on it.”
The legislators note that the Crops extended the comment period for the proposed Donlin gold mine in the Bethel area to six months. “Pebble has the potential to dwarf Donlin, and thus deserves a longer comment period than Donlin,” they wrote. They also noted that “Because the Pebble draft EIS includes tens of thousands of pages of detailed technical information, three months is insufficient for even the most dedicated public person to assess and respond to the sheer volume of material.”
The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association also expressed outrage at what they labeled “the irresponsible and negligent conduct unfolding in the proposed Pebble Mine permitting process,” adding that “A 90-day comment period is far too short of a time period to review and comment on the recently released draft environmental mpact statement.”
Seven public meetings are scheduled in the Bristol Bay region on the draft EIS in March and April, plus two more in Homer and Anchorage.
Dates, places and times are posted on the USACE website, https://pebbleprojecteis.com/. Written comments will be accepted at any of the public meetings and can also be mailed to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, ATTN: DA Permit Application 2017-271, Pebble Limited Partnership, 645 G Street Suite 100-921, Anchorage, Alaska 99501.