U.S. Army Corps extends comment period on Pebble's draft EIS

May 3, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period on its draft environmental review of the proposed Pebble Mine. The final day to submit comments is now July 1.

A work camp at the site of the proposed Pebble Mine.
Credit Isabelle Ross/KDLG

Update May 9, 2019:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a new end date for the comment period on its draft environmental review of the proposed Pebble Mine. The final day to submit comments is now July 1. That's two days later than the extension's original end date of June 29, 2019. The Army Corps announced the extension on Friday.  

Article from Friday May 3, 2019:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period on its draft environmental review of the proposed Pebble Mine. The final day to submit comments is now June 29. The comment window was originally scheduled for 90-days, ending May 30.

The move comes a week after Senator Lisa Murkowski asked the Army Corps to extend the period by 30 days. Senator Dan Sullivan has also expressed concern that the original comment period was too short.

Since the draft was published in February, opponents of  the mine have repeatedly called for more time to weigh in on the 1,668-page draft, which also has 1,550 pages of appendices. But some are unsatisfied – not only with the length of the extension, but with the process itself. Tyson Fick is a spokesperson for Commercial Fishermen of Bristol Bay.

“We don’t need another 30 days to tell us that this EIS is fatally flawed, and they should go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Lindsay Layland, deputy director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. According to her, offering a 30-day extension is insufficient.

“We’re at the busiest time of year for the people of Bristol Bay and major stakeholders who are coming in for their salmon season," she said. 

Layland’s group and others have called for a 270-day comment period.

Parties on the other side of the issue aren’t happy, either. Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole says they are disappointed with the decision, and that prolonging the process is serving no one.

“You get to a point in a public comment window where you start to wonder, ‘How much more time is really necessary for folks to weigh in?’” he said.

However, he commended the Army Corps for what he sees as a transparent review process.

While the comment period for the draft review of Pebble’s permit application is extended, the comment period for the application itself is not. According to an Army Corps spokesperson, that window ends May 30. The 404 permit is part of the Clean Water Act. It would allow dredged and fill materials to be discharged in waters and wetlands.

Original article:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period on its draft environmental review of the proposed Pebble Mine. The 90-day comment window was originally scheduled to end May 30. The final day to submit comments is now June 29.

The move comes after extensive calls by groups opposed to the mine to give the public additional time to weigh in on the more than 1,400-page draft. Last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski specifically asked the Army Corps to extend the period by 30 days, and Senator Dan Sullivan has said he was concerned the original comment period was too short.

According to the Army Corps, around 8,400 public comments have been uploaded to its website so far, with more being submitted.

Comments on Pebble's permit application and the draft EIS can be submitted online or by mail. 

This story is developing and KDLG will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.