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Bristol Bay Residents Protest Panel Discussions
Posted 10.3.12 by Renewable Resources Coalition
Several dozen Bristol Bay residents, fishermen, hunters and anglers turned out Oct. 2 in Anchorage for the first of four panel discussions organized to validate research produced by promoters of a massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine.
The panel discussions, organized by The Keystone Center, of Keystone, Colo., are being paid for by the Pebble Limited Partnership, which wants to build the mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, home of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.
Keystone officials have said none of the panelists are being paid for their participation in the panels, but Keystone has declined to disclose how much the Pebble Limited Partnership is paying Keystone itself for the panel discussions.
Some of the approximately 100 mine opponents said they want Keystone to immediately halt its so-called "independent" assessment of science released by the Pebble Limited Partnership.
"I think it would serve everyone if Keystone tell Alaskans how much they have been paid by Pebble to date," said Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited. "Their unwillingness to disclose this information calls into question this entire process. It does not come close to providing the transparency and neutrality offered by the Environmental Protection Agency's ongoing watershed assessment process."
Keystone was hired by the Pebble Limited Partnership in December 2010 to validate their science and conduct a public dialogue about Pebble's plan to mine in the Bristol Bay region.
The EPA has spent the last 18 months independently assembling a thorough assessment of the impacts mining would have on the region, at the request of Native corporations, tribes and fishermen. The EPA's draft watershed assessment, released this summer, found that the Pebble project would have an adverse affect on salmon habitat and the economic livelihood of some 14,000 individuals who depend on Bristol Bay salmon.
According to Carol Ann Woody, a fisheries scientist with extensive field experience in the Bristol Bay fisheries, the Pebble Limited Partnership cannot, after nine years of studies, tell how many total salmon spawn in streams draining the deposit area.
The PLP studies "are not transparent, violating a basic tenet of science," Woody wrote in her assessment of the reliability of the PLP salmon escapement studies.
"Alaskan consultants initially hired by Pebble estimated hundreds of thousands of salmon spawn in streams draining the deposit. The outside consulting firm PLP later hired to replace them, however, estimates only hundreds of spawning salmon."
An independent peer view of the EPA's draft assessment is ongoing and a final report is expected to be released before year's end.