Pebble Mine advisory meeting prompts protest
The controversy over Pebble Mine continues. An advisory committee formed by The Pebble Partnership is meeting in Anchorage to learn more about the project, according to Pebble. The company says it is considering options to reduce the size of the proposed mine.
More than a hundred people gathered outside the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage Monday afternoon. That's where the advisory committee was originally scheduled, but it was later moved to an undisclosed location.
Much of the controversy over the Pebble project dates back to 2005 when Pebble made a major discovery outside of Iliamna in southwestern Alaska. In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted work on the project through the Clean Water Act. But after taking the EPA to court, Pebble was allowed to continue work on the project.
The newly-formed advisory committee -- made up of people in leadership positions in and outside of the state -- has been in a series of meetings for the last two days about the project and its impacts. It includes native leaders like Willie Hensley and national leaders like former joint chiefs of staff chair General Joe Ralston -- even some members who have been outspoken against Pebble.
Pebble Mine Limited Partnership says it's seeking a variety of voices, including those groups that oppose the project. The company says it invited them to attend the meetings, but they declined.
"I think the people of Bristol Bay have spoken for over a decade, the message has been unwavering. And there is no way that we’re going to waste the Pebble Limited Partnership’s time. And waste our time, after a decade of this -- the discussion is over," said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay.
Mike Heatwole, a spokesperson for Pebble Limited Partnership, says the company is asking opponents to share their views, not change them.
"I find it unfortunate anytime someone says dialogue is a waste of time. We, at the end of the day, end up with a better project when we have diverse opinions in the room," Heatwole said.
Monday's meeting was held behind closed doors. Heatwole says the goal was to get members of the advisory committee up to speed about where the project stands. He says the committee will meet in public forums later this year.