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Legislature hears public testimony on Pebble Mine

March 20, 2010
  • Pebble Mine opponent Rick Halford says the state needs the best information possible before it makes a decision on Pebble. (Daniel Hernandez/KTUU-DT)
Pebble Mine opponent Rick Halford says the state needs the best information possible before it makes a decision on Pebble. (Daniel Hernandez/KTUU-DT)

by Ted Land
Friday, March 19, 2010

JUNEAU, Alaska -- Both sides of the Pebble Mine debate were at the state Capitol Friday evening to testify on whether or not the state needs a third-party review of its permitting standards and environmental safeguards.

The state Board of Fisheries asked the Legislature to look into the matter and take any steps it deems necessary to protect fish and game in the region.

Specifically, the Legislature wants to know the biggest risks of the mine, and how they compare to other mines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Opponents of the mine say could it cover 15 square miles and leave a gaping open pit, while supporters say it could create up to 1,000 long-term jobs.

Once it gets some answers the Legislature could ask for an independent review of the state's permitting process, to be carried out by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council.

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"The state needs to be armed with the best science and the best information before it's in a position to have to make a decision," said mine opponent Rick Halford.

"Our standards get studies by independent groups all the time," said the Pebble Partnership's John Shively. "And Alaska has some of the highest standards in the world, but it also has some of the most difficult processes in the world."

No specific permitting plan has yet been proposed for the mine, but Pebble officials say that could happen early next year.

Contact Ted Land at tland@ktuu.com

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