Cc: Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, Governor Bill Walker, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, Shane McCoy (ACOE)
Dear Col. Brooks,
We are a diverse group of businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans and contribute tens of billions of dollars in economic activity. We are united by the substantial resources and economic opportunities provided by Bristol Bay. Across our industries, we understand the value that customers place on Bristol Bay’s pristine waters and the fish that they produce. We also understand, based on scientific assessments from the current and past administrations, that the proposed Pebble Mine is a direct threat to our industries, and would have severe impacts on our businesses and thousands of American jobs.
We are extremely concerned about the current state of affairs with the Pebble project. It appears that there are significant economic and infrastructure challenges associated with this project that have driven away all of its major investors, but after more than a decade of debate, our businesses and the American people have no idea how critical or serious those challenges may be. In late May, First Quantum Minerals followed in the footsteps of past investors when it declined an options deal with Pebble and forfeited $37.5 million dollars. In addition to its financial troubles, the Pebble Limited Partnership is making unprecedented moves to significantly alter its mine plan only months after they submitted the original proposal. Despite all of this, the Army Corps continues its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) at an unprecedented pace. This kind of uncertainty and lack of clarity hinders the stability for the companies that currently operate in, and rely on, Bristol Bay.
It is critical that the Army Corps of Engineers conducts a robust process that will provide answers to our questions and engage the public in a meaningful way. Our businesses and customers deserve to know what convinced seasoned investors with a history of investing in mining projects around the world to abandon their commitments and investments in this project. The livelihood of our employees, the products we sell to our consumers and the continued success of our businesses relies on coming to the right decision about how we manage the resources in Bristol Bay. A process that is rushed, ignores red flags and is limited in scope simply does not lend itself to a strong decision.
Furthermore, the fact that this EIS is moving at an unprecedented rate in spite of serious gaps in economic feasibility work, environmental baseline data and public engagement opportunities, sends a clear signal that the issues we have already raised are not being heard or valued. Please review our April 5, 2018 letter to your agency if you have not done so already. We received no response and the scoping process did not include our reasonable requests that are based on precedent from other Alaskan mineral development projects.
On behalf of our businesses, our customers and the thousands of Americans that we employ, we are asking that you pause this process until the serious concerns raised by Mitsubishi, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, First Quantum Mineral, EPA Administrator Pruitt and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have opposed this project are addressed. There is simply too much at stake for Alaskans, American businesses and the future of our country’s renewable resources.