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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Environmental Baseline Document
By Tim Bristol, Bob Waldrop, & Kimberly Williams


February 16, 2012
Thursday AM

As leaders of Alaska-based organizations representing the interests of Bristol Bay residents, commercial fishermen, and sportsmen throughout the state, we are writing to provide some perspective on this week’s unveiling of an “Environmental Baseline Document” by the Pebble Limited Partnership in a series of presentations to agencies and government officials in Anchorage.  The general public, including the people of Bristol Bay have been excluded from attending or participating in the meetings but have been able to watch through an on-line web cast.   After objections were raised to this exclusion PLP staff decided to allow one representative from each Bristol Bay tribe to attend. As PLP moves to hold these "factual conversations" excluding the public and those interested in the Pebble debate doesn't help generate the needed discussion about protecting the headwaters of important salmon and other fresh water fish habitat.

It is critical to note that the information in the baseline document is bought and paid for by the Pebble Limited Partnership.  Although they may use skilled and educated contractors to conduct the research, at the end of the day, PLP controls what studies are done, what questions get asked, and which elements of studies they want to publicize.  The material presented should be viewed as being understandably tilted in favor of development.  It is only natural that this should be the case.  PLP pays the contractors creating and presenting the information.  

From what we’ve seen this week, the findings put forth by these foreign mine developers do little to quell the concerns of the thousands of Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, corporations, sportsmen and others who oppose development of Pebble because of the unacceptable risks associated with this project.

The data in these studies is not peer reviewed, nor are the studies replicable based on the information provided.  The studies were funded by the developing corporations, and therefore reflect the strategic needs and desires of PLP.

These documents do not contain accessible data or raw data but instead the information is couched in 27,000 pages of interpretation. The format of the document disregards requests from agencies and stakeholders for data not opinions.

The known facts of this proposed project remain the same: It is a giant and diffuse sulfide ore body in a seismically active zone beneath the salmon-rich headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak drainages.

Any project to develop the ore body at Pebble puts the Bristol Bay basin’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the region’s world-class salmon fishery at risk.   We do not believe that the recent document released and presented by PLP changes this conclusion in any way.  Please do not hesitate to contact any of us for further discussion.


Tim Bristol
Director of Trout Unlimited Alaska

Bob Waldrop
Executive Director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development

Kimberly Williams
Executive Director of Nunamata Aulukestai


Received February 15, 2012 - Published February 16, 2012



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