Fisheries scientists gather data in a small Alaska stream.
Spawning Habitat Fisheries researcher and consultant Dr. Carol Ann Woody, with Dillingham resident and fisheries biologist Dan Chythlook, search tiny streams for juvenile salmon to document their delicate spawning habitat at the site of the proposed Pebble Mine site in southwest Alaska. The Alaska Pebble Mine project is a large and controversial copper, gold, and molybdenum open pit mine proposed for develop within the watersheds draining into Bristol Bay. The Bristol Bay watershed lies within the region of Southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark.The impact study is being conducted and supported by environmental groups including the Nature Conservancy. © Bridget Besaw

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Army Corps Won’t Release New Pebble Mine Plan

The Nature Conservancy Calls for Public Comment, Transparency in Review

The Army Corps of Engineers this week confirmed that it would not allow public comment on a new environmental mitigation proposal for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska.

In August, the Corps found the mine “cannot be permitted” as proposed under the Clean Water Act following a determination that discharges at the mine site would cause unavoidable, adverse impacts and significant degradation of aquatic resources in Bristol Bay. The Corps called for the mine's developer to present a new plan for how it would abate the mine’s threat to this globally significant salmon fishery. The plan, if accepted, could clear the way for the Corps to approve the mine.

The following is a statement by Steve Cohn, Alaska state director for The Nature Conservancy:

“This week, the developer of Pebble Mine provided its latest plan to the Corps, attempting to prove it can develop and operate this massive mine while meeting rigorous environmental standards. We know this plan will not achieve that purpose because no plan could abate the threats of dam failure, perpetual wastewater management and natural disasters enough to safely operate a mine in Bristol Bay. 

This mine would threaten one of the world’s last salmon strongholds, the local economies that depend on this fishery and the wellbeing of the Indigenous cultures that have thrived in this region for thousands of years.

Steve Cohn Alaska State Director, The Nature Conservancy

“Since the Corps will reportedly base its permit decision on this compensatory mitigation plan, we and a broad coalition of diverse partners in Bristol Bay have strongly urged releasing the plan and opening a public comment period before determining its adequacy. This decision continues a process already marred by a lack of transparency, inconsistency with regulatory norms, disregard for scientific evidence and inattention to the voices of Indigenous communities and the people of Alaska. 

“This mine would threaten one of the world’s last salmon strongholds, the local economies that depend on this fishery and the wellbeing of the Indigenous cultures that have thrived in this region for thousands of years. As a federal regulator charged with protecting the public interest, the Corps has a responsibility to the people of the United States, Alaska and the communities of Bristol Bay. They deserve a fair and transparent review process. We implore the Corps to follow its own guidelines, release this plan and allow for public comment. If it did so, the Corps would promptly hear from the overwhelming majority of Alaskans: Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.