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Friday, January 28, 2022

Lead Developer Abandons Pebble Mine Plans

Picture 10Many of us were hopeful when “Cyanide Cynthia” Carroll left Anglo American last year, and my thanks to Mr. Cutifani for his mastery of the obvious. Wrong Mine. Wrong Place.

Within hours Northern Dynasty’s stock was falling fast. Anglo didn’t announce the plan on a Friday afternoon to give cover to the remaining partner.

Apparently the decision didn’t come until well into the day on Sunday. In 2011, Northern Dynasty had put its 50 percent interest up for sale. It put the plan for the mine online. (I know, that made the whole “we don’t have a plan” thing a bit awkward.) It also submitted the same plan to the Securities Exchange Commission. The fact is Northern Dynasty doesn’t build mines. It prospects and permits and partners with developers. Any future development partners should know they are betting on a lame horse if they buy into business with it.

A few weeks ago I stopped by to see a couple of buddies who work at a local car wash. Completely opposite to my politics, and always good for a conversation. They had a stack of magnets that had come off vehicles that said “Pro Pebble” and the “No Closed Mines.”

Really? You can’t commit to a sticker? You go magnet. Probably a good thing.

Last weekend a friend asked me, “Are we going to win this fight against Pebble?”

It never occurred to me we Alaskans wouldn’t prevail in this fight. The option is too devastating to consider.

We’ve been able to survive some pretty nasty politics and terrible policies. Palin and Parnell have a shelf life; the pollution from Pebble would not.

My list of why Alaska wins with the protection of Bristol Bay probably doesn’t look like that of the NGOs and folks on the ground. A picture was posted not long ago of a woman getting a No Pebble logo tattooed on her shoulder. Indelible ink, not magnets. A friend of mine wore No Pebble pasties at a celebrate salmon party. People send me pictures of No Pebble stickers from all over the world. Really. I know these things seem silly but the bottom line is you don’t get that kind of devotion from the other side.

The fact is, if it wasn’t for the tireless work of Alaska Native tribes and corporations, commercial fishermen, sportfishing business owners and yes, the most unlikely of allies imaginable, the Fairbanks born-and-bred millionaire money manager Bob Gillam, there may already have been a giant hole in Bristol Bay’s headwaters.

The funding for the project was cut off in a sweet Monday morning memo. Our work to protect Bristol Bay forever isn’t over.

If justice is served, the courts will uphold the decision made by the residents of the Lake and Peninsula Borough to have a say in their destiny. The state needs a change at the helm for a governor and state legislators who will pledge to save a renewable resource over a nonrenewable resource. The Environmental Protection Agency needs to live up to its name and through the science of the watershed assessment bolt the door behind Anglo American.

Here’s hoping your freezers are full, canners are rattling and smokers a puffing away for many, many years to come.

[This story is cross-posted at The Anchorage Daily News ]



9 Responses to “Lead Developer Abandons Pebble Mine Plans”
  1. Slopslinger says:

    The departure of Northern Dynasty from the Pebble Partnership is welcome news, and if nothing else, a significant delay in the potential development of the Pebble prospect.

    It is true that we all depend on the types of metals that Pebble could provide for everything from our fancy smarty-phones, to the electricity that powers…..everything…and the potential wealth that the metals contained in the Pebble deposit could produce will create a constant drive for development by those interested in developing it. Hopefully, that development will only happen when mining technology and methods have advanced to the point that they would have essentially zero impact on the surrounding ecosystem. That might take a while…..

    Our constant consumption of finite resources, including metal resources, will drive the profit incentive for developing Pebble ever higher, and eventually the profit motive will roll over any opposition that stands in the way. Creating a National Monument, or Park, or other “Protected Area” will not really protect the Bristol Bay Fishery in perpetuity. Anything legal designation created by man can be just as easily be undone by man. Hopefully, common sense and respect for the environment which sustains us all would prevail, and the preservation of a fishery would always seem to be a better use of the natural resources of the area than consuming the land for its metal, but that sentiment doesn’t seem to run too strongly among most Alaskans, and there’s that old saying about hoping in one hand……

    The only thing that will truly eliminate the threat of destruction of the Bristol Bay ecosystem from a large scale mine like Pebble is if the resources contained in the Pebble deposit no longer hold such value, and the only way the value of those resources would decrease is if there is a dramatic shift away from the consumptive/disposable model of capitalism we currently operate under. That is not to say that capitalism is the enemy, but merely the context in which it is employed. We can’t mine the earth fast enough to keep up with the demand for toys and conveniences and luxuries we all use, and when those things have lost their luster, they go in a landfill. It’s not just a strange coincidence that Americans are (generally) horrible at math, and also seem to think that we can somehow consume and throw away everything and never run out.

    If we change the context under which capitalism operates in this country, we can change A LOT. What if recycling was mandatory? What if the allowable limits for discharge of waste products into the environment were zero? What if there was a profit motive to mine landfills? Our resources are finite. Our planet is finite. But there is just as much copper, gold, molybdenum, and everything else on this planet as there ever was (discounting, of course, things that have left the planet attached to a rocket) or ever will be. If we just convince people to look at the broader picture, and urge them to at least try to disconnect from the consumptive/disposable model of thinking that has been very deeply ingrained in them, we might just start sorting some of this stuff out, and save a few fish in the process.

    • NickWI says:

      With due respect Slopslinger, creating a national monument or park will preclude forever anything like pebble being developed there. having a national monument precludes large scale mining in the area.While there have been several monuments that have disappeared over the years, as part of merging them with other protected lands, like forests or other monuments, or bumping them up to national parks, there have only been a couple that have disappeared entirely. Basically, once a national monument is created it is almost impossible to undo it. Its there forever, and the public will quickly support keeping it as such.people like national parks and monuments, they just don’t like paying the necessary taxes to fully fund them. congressfolk like parks and monuments, it scores them free political points and allows them to point at it and say ‘ look at what i’;m doing! Keep me in office” and of course the president can create national monuments with the stroke of a pen. trying to repeal a national monument is a nonstarter in Congress, the president would veto any such bill were it to get past the Senate, and with the Dems running the Senate, no such bill is going to pass the Senate anyway. If Bristol Bay becomes a national monument, it will remain so forever, unless it is upgraded to a national park which carries even stronger protections and is even harder to undo. so yes try and change the way we do business, but protecting the area as a national monument will offer security that it will never be developed. people may change, but there is such a thing as settled law, stare decisis. once it is a national monument, it can only be undone by an act of congress, and as i said, getting it past both houses and the president are very tall orders, as presidents don’t like undoing national monuments.

  2. Really? says:

    Another informative article. Thank you for “paying attention”. I Heart the Mudflats.

  3. NickWI says:

    imo the way to close the area, as stated in many previous comments on pebble, is to declare the area a national monument. monuments often include state and private holdings, so the fact that the mine would be on state land wouldnt mean squat. To fully protect bristol bay and its headwaters, the monument is going to have to be big, I mean REAL Big. on water, draw a line from port moller up to togiak wildlife refuge. this encompass the entirety of the bay, or close to it. on land, there are two sections. in the north draw a line from where the Yukon delta NWR juts out, over to the northern boundary of the Lake Clark park and preserve. then you head south, until you get to Lake Iliamna. you run across its shore line then turn south again until you reach the road between Naknek and King Salmon. the road will be the dividing area between the North section and the South. the South section begins south of the road and runs down the peninsula to Port Moller, occupying all lands not located in towns or already set aside in refuges , monuments or parks. This section will be split into three parts each named for the biggest city in the area. the northern section will be the Pilot Point Section, the middle is the Port Heiden section and the Port Moller section rounds out the monument. not sure how many millions of acres this will all total, but probably 10 million when you combine water and land. ar minimum. As I said it has to be REAL big.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    NO Pebble. Not now, not ever.

  5. Pinwheel says:

    Not to discount the international effort to “Stop Pebble”. Perhaps we can harnass such effective influence for other, equally destructive exploitation. n

  6. Pinwheel says:

    MKR !! You have such eloquence !!!!!!!!. But we must continue our vigilance against profiteers and more exploiters. An action on the Nushagak River will have effect on the Yukon. Perhaps a shout out to southwest Alaskans, whose effective community outreach has been so effective, can inspire each of us.

    The effect of a knowledgeable neighbor, brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, auntie, uma is a network that obviously works. Understandable and relevant information will prevail. n

  7. Ripley in CT says:

    I’m pretty sure it was because I still have my sticker on my appointment book. And people in CT ask me about it 😉

    Congratulations, Alaska. Bet you haven’t heard that in a while. It’s well-deserved.

    • slipstream says:

      Way to go, Ripley. It was the sticker on your appointment book that tipped the balance!

      Our salmon appreciate your support.