Governor Bill Walker is urging the Army Corp of Engineers not to advance an environmental review of the Pebble Mine project.

Gov. Walker says the project should first demonstrate to Alaskans that it is both feasible and realistic.

In a letter to the corps of engineers yesterday, Gov. Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott asked that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the controversial mine be suspended.

“The Bristol Bay region is unique,” Walker and Mallott wrote. “It supports the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world – supplying almost half of the global wild sockeye, and sustaining over 10,000 jobs. For many communities in the region, abundant salmon runs, clean water, and ecologically intact landscapes provide more than a paycheck, they sustain a treasured way of life that has existed for generations. […] Given the unique characteristics of the region, the mine proposed by Pebble Limited Partnership must be held to an extraordinarily high standard.”

For its part, Pebble Limited Partnership says the Corps of Engineers complete environmental review is critical to assuring Alaskans the mine can operate without adversely impacting salmon.

“It really is the Corp’s process that will give Alaskans answers and assurances to this issue,” said Mike Heatwole, a spokesperson for Pebble Limited Partnership. “We obviously believe we can successfully and responsibly operate a mine at Pebble, and this is exactly what the Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating -- as to whether we can meet this expectation or not.”

The administration's letter continues to say that the Pebble Limited Partnership has not demonstrated the project is realistic and urges a preliminary economic assessment.

Heatwole says Pebble Limited partnership is already in the process of preparing such an assessment.

“We have many, many things that are in the works and that's one of them. We haven't put a timeline on that,” Heatwole said. “We're working on the timeline that makes the most sense for our project.”

To date, Heatwole says Pebble has invested nearly a billion dollars in the project, which currently employs about 50 people.

If the Pebble Mine project were to receive the necessary federal and state permits, Heatwole says it could be shovel ready in three to five years.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.

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