Pebble Pushes to Get Land Use Initiative Off Ballot

The Pebble Limited Partnership is asking the Alaska court system to keep off an October ballot in Lake and Peninsula Borough an initiative that would affect development of the proposed large scale mine. The Pebble Partnership alleges that the initiative is not well worded and that there are substantive matters and legal matters involved regarding making land use decisions through an initiative rather than through a comprehensive planning process. Opponents of the proposed massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine say that the Pebble Partnership is simply trying to silence the voices of voters in the Lake and Peninsula Borough.

The Pebble Partnership’s emergency petition seeks a review and reversal of the trial court’s decision not to decide the case prior to the election.

The emergency petition comes in the wake of a decision in late July by Alaska Superior Court Judge John Suddock, who deferred a ruling on a request for summary judgment by the Pebble Partnership until after the election. The “Save our Salmon” initiative is aimed at prohibiting the development of large-scale mining activities within the borough, to prevent adverse impact on salmon spawning streams.

Scott Kendall, the attorney representing Alaskans for Bristol Bay in this case, said the Alaska Superior Court was correct in applying Alaska Supreme Court precedent and upholding the right of borough residents to vote on the initiative. George Jacko, director of Alaskans for Bristol Bay, said that with the majority of Alaskans and over 80 percent of local residents opposed to the mine, “it isn’t surprising the partnership does not want to allow the people a vote.”

Mining proponents have maintained that the Pebble mine can be developed and operated without harm to salmon fisheries, but opponents point to a great deal of scientific evidence to the contrary.