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September 24, 2021

Supreme Court Allows “No Pebble Mine” Initiative on Ballot

The Alaska Supreme Court yesterday delivered some much needed good news. Yesterday in a 3-1 ruling, the court upheld a previous court’s ruling that the residents of the Lake and Peninsula Borough, should be allowed to vote on a ballot initiative in October. The initiative would restrict permitting of any large extraction project that could potentially harm salmon runs.

Pebble Partnership sued to keep the measure from making it on to the ballot, arguing that the law would be unenforceable, and is inappropriate for a ballot measure. They even named the clerk who certified the measure in the lawsuit.

Governor Sean Parnell even sided with the Pebble Partnership by signing the state of Alaska on as a friend of the plaintiff in an amicus brief. You heard right – the State of Alaska thanks to Sean Parnell, sided with giant international mining conglomerates to try to silence the voices of Alaskans.

It was clear that despite Pebble’s insistence that their proposed mine will not harm fish, and that they would not go forward without support from the local community, they were clearly afraid of just that. The Pebble mine, which would sit atop the headwaters of two important salmon streams feeding into Bristol Bay, would be the continent’s largest open pit gold and copper mine.

The Save Our Salmon initiative will proceed and appear on the ballot October 4, but even if it becomes law, the Pebble Partnership will have the right to file a separate post-election challenge. One of those challenges may state that a law by ballot initiative cannot preempt the Alaska Constitution which gives the legislature authority over the state’s resources.

The Pebble Mine isn’t throwing in the towel here, and it may actually be that the law will not stand through an appeals process. However, it will do one very important thing – it will clearly show that there is very little support for the project on a local level. The Pebble Partnership will no longer be able to claim that area residents overwhelmingly support the project. Despite the attempts to stifle them, the voices of the voters will be heard. Regardless of the outcome of the initiative in the long run, the Bristol Bay fishermen and local residents will have not only their day in court, but their day at the ballot box.

For more information about the proposed Pebble Mine project, and the Bristol Bay region, visit savebristolbay.org

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18 Responses to “Supreme Court Allows “No Pebble Mine” Initiative on Ballot”
  1. 1smartcanerican™ says:

    I’m relaxing in one of my favorite places, the Kootenays in BC. I just finished Dana Stabenow’s book “A Night too Dark” which centers around a gold mine in Alaska. Hmmmm! I was thinking of the Pebble Mine the whole time I was reading this story 🙂

    Anyway, the book was good read and I loved all the Russian names since the Kootenays also have many people with Russian surnames due to the immigration of the Doukhobors to gain their religious freedom to be pacifists which was not looked upon kindly in Russia in the early 1900’s. I just finished a lovely bowl of borscht which is famous in this part of the world due to the culinary influence of said Doukhobor families. Yummy stuff!

  2. NickWI says:

    Gold is closing in on 2000 bucks an once.I believe that more of Alaska should be set aside. not only Bristol but the Chitka area where they are proposing to strip mine through Salmon streams. Alaska has protected most of its Southern coastline, now go the whole hiog and protect the rest. up to 50 miles from from shore and 50 miles inland, with exceptions made for present towns , private holdings etc. that would, by my calculation, cover most of the far side of the Alaska Peninsula (what is not covered by the Maritime Wildlife Refuge, and would extend over the entire state, fiolling in the gaps where there is currently no protected land.the oil from Prudhoe will run outat some point, and there not enough in the Petroluem Reserve ot Anwar to replace it. Alaska has protected every region, except the North Slope. Expand the Petroleum reseve as far west and east as possible, reserve 6 million acres for oil and gas exploration 9 currently the companies are using about 4 million) and set aside the rest. which would probably come to something like 30 million acres. the oil compabnies get to keep exploring, and land is set aside for future generations to enjoy..

  3. At what point do you figure a gallon of heating fuel will cost an ounce of gold? Fuel prices are already ridiculous in Alaska and the interior is probably much worse.

  4. Alaska Pi says:

    I so wish we were looking at developing a method to weigh the “forever” value of the Bristol Bay fishery against the short term- boom bucks of this mine proposal with it’s hidden costs to all else around it.
    I think we need to because that is what is most lacking in our public resource management model.
    Our current model mostly operates in compartments, with measures peculiar to a specific resource and no real way to measure what else might be affected.
    If Pebble happens and when the containment scheme fails we can recoup dollars if we plan well enough to do so but dollars don’t hatch and sustain fish and it won’t fix the problem.

    • Zyxomma says:

      It’s what I’ve been saying all along. Can’t eat copper and gold. Certainly can’t eat toxic mining waste. Open pit mines have no place in seismically active areas, anyway. Tell Rio Tinto/Anglo American to eff off. Say it with your vote.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Alaska Pi:

      Although I found your comments somewhat convoluted, (just like mine are sometimes, thanx.) A while back there was a plan to develop a road east from the Copper River to Carbon Mt. Entirely Alaska Native land, defined by USGS. The prospect divided a very small community of Alaska Natives.

      Gold prices (values??) may change the dynamic. I hope not. I really hope that when all those out-of-state Bristol Bay limited entry permit holding ‘fisherman’ realize without the headwaters they really have nothing.

      • Alaska Pi says:

        Actually, I was trying to sidestep a few things here because I have a deep and abiding respect for AKM but see so many things about the so-called “no Pebble Mine” initiative differently than she and Shannyn do. Turned out to be an even less than effective sidestep because I forgot this link

        http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/052011/loc_lkpswe.shtml

        “A state-funded third party study of the potential impacts of the proposed Pebble mine has been shelved.

        A $750,000 appropriation near the end of the 2010 legislative session inserted into the capital budget directed the Legislative Council to award a contract for an “independent third party scientific and multidisciplinary study of the potential large mine development in the Bristol Bay drainage.”

        The latest capital budget, now on its way to Gov. Sean Parnell after the end of a contentious special session, has reappropriated that $750,000 for a third party study of the “statutory and permitting requirements and processes related to large mine development in the state.” ”

        The original appropriation was a response to a request by the Board of Fish.

        “The board asked the Legislature to study permitting standards and environmental safeguards and to take steps it considers necessary to protect game and fish habitat.

        The lawmakers say the study is key to addressing those concerns.”
        http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_story/6814813/article-Alaska-lawmakers-request-Pebble-Mine-study?

        Will the altered focus of the study adequately address concerns and move the Leg to take steps necessary to protect game and fish habitat? Will we get to actually question the mixing zone philosophy and suchlike that DNR adheres to since Murkowski? Will we get anything useful about resource management out of this?

  5. deep see says:

    save the bay, save the way, mine on another basalt deposit, to save the day.

  6. NickWI says:

    Set that area aside as a state park as it is on state land. set the federal lands aside as a national monument, and tell big oil to go pound tundra. its been too long since we set aside some areas in Alaska, and Bristol Bay deserves the strongest preservation possible. The Pebble mine should not be permitted. Does Alaska have the ability to recall its governor?

  7. I got very confused for a minute – the headline flumoxed me. How about –
    Supreme Court allows “No Pebble Mine” Initiative on ballot – ?
    For a bit there I thought they were NOT allowing a vote on Pebble Mine on the ballot.

  8. Cassie Jeep says:

    Very good news, indeed!

  9. Millie says:

    Yea!!! Thanks for the blog site ‘save bristol bay’ – think I’ll get involved to the degree that I can which would be financial.

  10. PollyinAK says:

    This is great news. I just signed up for the newsletter and will donate too! (since I can’t vote)

  11. Diane says:

    Congrats!
    Good news despite the Governor.

    What is the reason the state is so for this project? Are the jobs and the money that great for the tradeoff?

  12. boodog says:

    🙂 YAY! 🙂 Fingers crossed down here!

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