Morning Headlamp – State: Pebble to Commit $2 Million for Land Restoration

Back to Work! Conditions for continuing work at the Pebble Mine were announced Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and immediately drew a favorable reaction from Bristol Bay tribes, environmental groups and fishing interests. Pebble said its work this summer will be as DNR has directed, and will protect the public interest. Pebble Limited Partnership applied in October for a land-use permit to continue monitoring and care of mining claims spread over 266,000 acres in the Bristol Bay region. The developers aren’t planning exploration work this summer, but say they intend to move forward and eventually seek major permits to develop the site. The summer work, with permission now in hand, will include inspections, upkeep of facilities, and reclamation including filling of holes drilled into the earth to remove core samples. The state estimates it would cost $1.9 million to remove all of Pebble’s equipment from state land and another $100,000 to do the inspection and restoration required under this year’s permit. Since 1988, some 1,355 exploratory holes have been drilled on the Pebble prospect. About 600 have been filled, DNR says. The new permit requires Pebble to fill another 138 holes, including plugging them below the surface and cutting off any exposed well or pipe, which Bristol Bay residents say have been exposed in the past, creating hazards. Another 612 boreholes can remain open for the next year, but Pebble must inspect 300 of them, under the permit. The state required Pebble to commit $2 million to ensure disturbed land is eventually restored.

The consequences of courage. The Alaska Senate has removed Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy from his key committee posts following his vote last week against the caucus’s budget proposal. Dunleavy’s seat on the key finance committee went to Palmer Sen. Shelley Hughes.  They also gave Dunleavy’s gavel as chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee to Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer, the previous Senate president. Kodiak Sen. Gary Stevens, the Senate president from 2011 to 2012, will take over Hughes’ old job as chair of the Senate Education Committee. Dunleavy said in a brief interview Tuesday that he wasn’t surprised to lose his finance seat or his chairmanship. “I knew what the ramifications were of my decision,” he said. “There’s no animosity.” Headlamp applauds Dunleavy for standing his ground and his belief that the size and scope of government could be further reduced.


First Reads

Bombarded with public comments, Alaska gives Pebble OK for summer work — with new requirements

Alaska Dispatch News, Lisa Demer, April 12, 2017

Dunleavy stripped of committee posts after defying Alaska Senate majority on budget vote

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, April 12, 2017

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