ISER Researcher Criticizes Pebble Data

ANCHORAGE – Week 2 of the Keystone Center’s process on Pebble Mine wrapped up this afternoon in Anchorage, capped by an incisive appraisal from a researcher at the well-respected UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research. Steve Colt, a Professor of Economics with ISER, had this to say in a comment summarizing his feedback on Pebble environmental baseline document:

"It is fair to say that this chapter (of Pebble’s EBD), as written, diminished the importance and role of the sport fishing economy in the regional economy in a way that is not supported by the data. You need to recognize that this is an industry that is tied to the world market."

In response, Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively, brusquely shrugged off the concerns of hunters and fishermen, essentially telling them their money, jobs, and way of life don’t matter.

“You cannot assume that all the people who go out there are individual people willing to spend $6,000-$8,000,” said Shively. “There is a huge amount of corporate money that is spent that are largely tax write offs that supports that recreational lodge industry out there and so if we are going to do that kind of thing and make that information meaningful we have to understand all the different users.” [AUDIO AVAILABLE]

Sport fishermen are expressing their dismay as word of Shively’s out-of-touch comment spreads through social media.

"Our commitment and involvement through our sport fishing lodge on the Kvichak River generates over $250,000 per year through the Igiugig Village Council, which is a small community of 63 year round residents," said Brian Kraft, owner of the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge. Kraft noted that roughly 40-percent of his customers are Alaskan or involved directly in Alaska business, and that his business spends over $750,000 with locally-owned air transport companies alone.

The Keystone Center was hired by PLP in December 2010 to validate their science and conduct a public dialogue about their plan to mine in Bristol Bay. Some 150-plus Bristol Bay residents, fishermen, hunters and anglers protested the start of the hearings last Tuesday in Anchorage.

Meanwhile, the EPA has spent the last 18 months independently assembling a fair, thorough assessment of the impacts mining would have on the region. The EPA did so at the request of Native corporations, tribes, and fishermen, and found that the Pebble project would undeniably harm salmon populations and directly threaten the employment of some 14,000 individuals who depend on Bristol Bay salmon.

An independent peer review of the EPA’s assessment is ongoing and expected to be released in the next several months. A final report will be issued by the EPA shortly thereafter.

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