Testimony before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers • Anchorage, AK • April 16, 2019

Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Pebble Project

 

Good afternoon, my name is Marleanna Hall, I am the executive director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. RDC is a trade association with members in tourism, oil and gas, forestry, fishing, and mining, as well as the 12 regional Native corporations, labor, individuals, and others supporting the responsible development of Alaska’s natural resources. 

RDC’s priorities include promoting and defending the integrity of the permitting process and advocating for predictable, timely, and efficient state and federal permitting processes based on sound science and economic feasibility. Thank you for issuing the DEIS and keeping the project analysis on time, and basing it on the best available science.

RDC believes that every project, no matter its size or location, should be allowed to go through the permitting process. That process should ultimately determine whether a project should move forward.

While we have not yet fully reviewed the DEIS, I think it is important to highlight some of the Corps’ findings, including 

  • the long success and Alaska’s experience with co-existence between resource projects and fishing.
  • that the proposed project would not reduce returning adult salmon to the Kvichak and Nushagak river systems.
  • that catastrophic failure of the tailings facility is extremely unlikely and that there would be no population impacts for fish from the tailings release scenarios evaluated.
  • lastly it notes that overall economic and health benefits will be substantial.

Further, project proponents have greatly reduced the projected footprint of the proposed mine, and have mitigated potential impacts in a way that will allow the mine to be responsibly developed. There will be no major mine facilities in the Upper Talarik/Kvichak Rivers drainage.

With regard to the DEIS, the public should be aware it is about 1,400 pages, with an 80-page executive summary and 1,600 pages of appendices. It is just a little above the norm for a DEIS review document for a resource project in Alaska.

Alaska has enjoyed the benefits of mining for well over 100 years, with the last several decades seeing new innovations and advancements for protecting the environment. In addition, Alaska has stringent regulations to protect its lands.

As Alaskans, we have the greatest stake in seeing that any and all development is done in a way that protects resources, including fish and wildlife, whether it is for commercial or subsistence use. 

Now is the time to encourage responsible resource development in Alaska, and to encourage investment in Alaskan projects. Thank you for the opportunity to comment, we will submit detailed comments before the May 30thdeadline.