Alaskans now have an additional 30 days to submit comment on the proposed Pebble Mine’s draft environmental impact statement, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extended its previous deadline to June 29.

Friday’s announcement by the Corps, following a series of nine public comment hearings held statewide which ended in Anchorage, brings the total comment period on the controversial copper and gold mine near Bristol Bay to 120 days.

“The Corps released the draft EIS on Feb. 20 with the formal public comment period beginning March 1,” Corps officials wrote. “Since January 2018, the Corps has made Pebble Limited Partnership’s permit application to discharge fill material into waters of the United States and work in navigable waters for the purpose of developing a copper-molybdenum-gold mine project in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska [publicly] available on the EIS website. Also, baseline data for the environmental analysis has been available since March 2018.”

The extension comes a week after Sen. Lisa Murkowski requested 30 more days for public comment from the Corps’ Alaska district commander, Col. Phillip Borders. In a letter, Murkowski noted that 120 days would be consistent with the comment period she previously requested for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

“Acting now is important given the length and complexity of the [draft environmental impact statement] and the need to ensure that the thousands of Alaskans who have followed this project closely can provide meaningful feedback on it,” Murkowski wrote.

A group of Bristol Bay fishermen and tribal officials quickly questioned the limited extension of the comment period Friday, noting that the Corps had rejected their request for an extension to 270 days — and that the June 29 deadline falls during the height of the Bristol Bay fishing season. The United Tribes of Bristol Bay’s executive director, Alannah Hurley, said science “has already proven this mine cannot safely coexist with salmon.”

“A thirty-day extension is yet another example in this corrupt ‘process’ that shows Murkowski and the USACE are committed to green lighting Pebble Mine’s permit at the expense of Alaskans, fishermen, and the last great sockeye salmon fishery in the world,” Hurley said in the group's statement.

The Corps of Engineers is taking comments on the website for the draft EIS, as well as by mail at an Anchorage address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District
ATTN: DA Permit Application 2017-271, Pebble Limited Partnership
645 G Street Suite 100-921
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

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