Murkowski to Pebble: What’s the Plan?

seeking to develop a massive copper, gold and molybdenum prospect near the
headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed are getting called on the carpet by
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wants to know just what their plan is.

In a letter
addressed to top officials of the Pebble Limited Partnership, and its joint
venture partners, Anglo American Plc and Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Alaska
Republican said they should detail their proposed plans to develop the massive
deposit in Southwest Alaska.

comments were directed toward the PLP’s timeline for releasing a project
description and submitting permit applications for development of the Pebble

“As you know,
in anticipation of PLP taking these actions, I have been and remain neutral on
potential development in this area,” Murkowski said in the letter to chief
executive officers John Shively, of the Pebble Partnership in Anchorage; Mark
Cutifani, of London-based Anglo American, and Ron Thiessen, of Northern Dynasty
Minerals, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

To that end,
Murkowski said, she has encouraged all stakeholders to withhold judgment until
a project description is released, permit applications filed, and all relevant
analyses completed.  Murkowski has also
opposed the prospect of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employing
Section 404© of the Clean Water Act to veto development of the mine.

comments, by Murkowski, are really overdue, said Bob Waldrop, executive
director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, who noted
that Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, also recently urged the EPA to complete its
Bristol Bay watershed assessment.

“Let’s get
this on the road,” Waldrop said. “Pebble has been telling us for six years now
that next year they’re going to have a mine plan. Clearly they have something
in mind, or they wouldn’t have said next year six times.” 

underlines the need for the EPA to act fast, “and once we get a final watershed
assessment, once we see Pebble’s plan, then we can have a public discussion on
whether we should have a mine there,” Waldrop said. “That seems to me to be the
logical process that both Murkowski and Begich are pushing.”

Limited Partnership spokesperson, John Shively, said he hopes to get a response
to Murkowski within the next couple of weeks.

A lot of the
pressure that backers of the mine are getting is coming from the opposition,
and it would clearly be in their best interest to come out with the project
before it is completely designed, he said.

request is a reasonable request, Shively said. “We would like to be in
permitting by the end of this year. If we can be permitting by the end of this
year, we will be.”