TAKE ACTION: Pebble Tapes Unveil Massive Mine Plan, Ongoing Political Collusion

ANCHORAGE & WASHINGTON, D.C. – The September 21st release of The Pebble Tapes, secretly recorded conversations with executives from the proposed Pebble mine slated for Bristol Bay, Alaska, have uncovered a misleading and dishonest mine plan put forward by the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) and Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM).

The conversations, recorded by the Environmental Investigation Agency posing as potential investors in the project, show now-former PLP CEO Tom Collier and NDM CEO Ron Thiessen revealing details about the company’s plans to expand the mine, touting plans to mine for a minimum of 180 years despite public promises for a much smaller, 20-year mine, relying on currently-proposed and additionally-planned infrastructure. The executives also describe specific details of the companies’ coordination with the Governor of Alaska and federal government officials to influence the permitting process. Watch the video series here.

Alaska’s Senators quickly made statements responding to the tapes and the allegations of their involvement in the permitting process.

Senator Murkowski stated: “Let me be clear: I did not misunderstand the Army Corps’ recent announcement,” she said by email. “I am not ‘embarrassed’ by my statement on it and I will not be ‘quiet in the corner.’ I am dead set on a high bar for large-scale resource development in the Bristol Bay watershed. The reality of this situation is the Pebble project has not met that bar and a permit cannot be issued to it.”   

Senator Sullivan followed: “Any suggestion otherwise is either wishful thinking, a blatant mischaracterization, or a desperate attempt to secure funding for a mine that cannot move forward. This incident demonstrates how far Mr. Collier, who has serious credibility problems of his own, is floundering in the face of this project’s overwhelming challenges.”

Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy also quickly took to denying the allegations of his involvement in the videos with a statement that said, “Any claims that Governor Dunleavy contacted White House administration officials on behalf of the company are false.” This can be directly refuted with CNN reporting from December 2019 which shows a letter (left) curated by Pebble staff, sent from the Governor’s office, to the Army Corps of Engineers during the public comment period last year.

Following the release of the tapes on Monday, PLP CEO Tom Collier submitted a letter of resignation. While Collier leaving the company is met with cheers from Alaskans and anglers across the country, his recognition fails to address the overarching problems that the Pebble Tapes unveiled. Pebble still intends to move a 200 year mine plan forward with much larger impacts than accounted for in the permitting process.

“Enough is enough. The permitting process has been compromised and abused by Pebble’s lies and deceit. It should be obvious to anyone now that Pebble was telling one story to get permits while telling another of a much larger, expanded mine to entice investors – thus jeopardizing even more salmon habitat and wetlands,” said Brian Kraft, president of Katmai Service Providers and owner of lodges in the Bristol Bay region.

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that the current Pebble proposal wouldn’t be permitted because it “would likely result in significant degradation of the environment and would likely result in significant adverse effects on the aquatic system or human environment.” Pebble was given the opportunity to resubmit a new mitigation plan within 90 days for further review by the Corps.

However, the Pebble Tapes, the Governor’s clearly politicized involvement in the permitting process and Collier’s resignation lead to once conclusion: Congress must investigate Pebble, and the key federal permit needs to be officially denied.

Send a message to your Members of Congress today. Sportsmen and women are calling on Congress to hold the Canadian mining company with a fraudulent and misleading mine plan accountable, and to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to deny its permit today.

Meghan Barker
Trout Unlimited