Several members of the Alaska Legislature sent a letter of support earlier this month to the head of the company looking at developing the controversial Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region. The letter was signed by 8 lawmakers including the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.
All of the lawmakers are Republicans. In the letter they stressed that Alaska is a resource development state and they claim Alaska has a history of using its natural resources in a responsible manner. Mike Chenault is the Speaker of the House. He’s from Nikiski, which features a lot of oil and gas infrastructure.
“I think a number of us don’t know if we support Pebble until we see a project plan but I think all of us support the notion that we have a process to develop mines in Alaska. Corporations such as Northern Dynasty should have the opportunity to go through that process. At the end of the day if the project doesn’t meet the criteria of the permitting process we have the ability to say no.”
In the letter the Republican lawmakers assert that they support Northern Dynasty Minerals efforts to advance the Pebble Project and they stress that the Pebble deposit is a state asset that sits on state land. Speaker Chenault maintains that the proposed Pebble Mine has the potential to have a huge positive impact on the state’s economy.
“I look at the jobs that it could possibly be created that would be long-term, well-paying jobs that would be a boom to the economy.”
Northern Dynasty Minerals is currently the only entity in the partnership that was created to develop the Pebble Mine. The giant mining company Anglo American pulled out the Pebble Limited Partnership last year and Northern Dynasty Minerals is looking for another mining company to join the partnership. The 8 lawmakers ended their recent letter to Northern Dynasty Minerals by asserting that Alaska is open to investment from those who seek to develop the state’s natural resources in a safe and responsible manner that respects and benefits its citizens. Speaker Chenault notes that while he supports Northern Dynasty being able to apply for permits for the Pebble Mine project, he won’t support the project if the developers can’t address his concerns.
“I don’t thing that anyone wants to see the Bristol Bay salmon go away. At the end of the day if they can’t prove to me that they can do it environmentally safe then I won’t support it. I can’t support it.”
The Pebble Limited Partnership recently hired a new CEO with experience in the federal permitting system and the company reiterated that the goal for this year is to advance the project and to initiate permitting. However, many observers believe the Partnership won’t go forward with permitting until another company is found to join the Partnership.