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Taryn Kiekow Heimer’s Blog

Pebble Partnership Buys Alaskans' Signatures

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted September 24, 2012 in Reviving the World's Oceans, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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No Pebble Mine Logo.jpgThe Pebble Limited Partnership, a consortium of foreign mining companies, is trying to buy people’s approval in an effort to combat the overwhelming opposition to Pebble Mine—a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Time and time again, Bristol Bay locals—along with commercial fishermen, Bristol Bay Native Corporation shareholders, and citizens state- and country-wide— have voiced their adamant opposition for the misguided project.

NRDC alone has generated over 1 million petitions of protest to Pebble Mine – provided freely – from our concerned members and activists.

Now Pebble is trying to cash in.

Their slick PR representatives have been discretely hiring signature-gatherers to sign a pro-Pebble petition. They posted a vaguely-worded Craigslist advertisement in Fairbanks, Alaska that tells folks who “like being outdoors” that they can “promote Alaska’s natural resource extraction and economic prosperity” by collecting signatures for an unnamed petition— for $2.50 a pop, with a bonus for over 500 signatures.

Similar ads were posted to recruit signature gatherers in Anchorage.

A number of students, staff, visitors, and faculty at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks signed the petition because, they said, they were bullied and misled by the hired signature-gatherers. Not only did signature-gatherers use overly aggressive solicitation tactics, but they also claimed that the petition would “ensure that an environmental review would take place before a mine at the Pebble Site” could be built. The petition (which conceals its association with the Pebble Partnership) would actually support allowing the Pebble Mine to bulldoze its way through the permitting process and ignore concerns raised by the Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s because the Pebble Partnership doesn’t like what EPA is saying. EPA recently released a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed that documents the potentially devastating impacts Pebble Mine would have on the wildlife and people that depend on Bristol Bay’s famed salmon runs. 

Instead of encouraging impartial science, the Pebble Partnership would apparently rather strong-arm support.

Many of the signatories felt distressed by the deceit, so much so that some even called the Pebble Partnership in order to get their names removed from the petition and proceeded to post anti-petition posters around campus in order to educate potential signatories to the petition’s true intent.

Alaskans overwhelmingly oppose the Pebble Mine.  Perhaps that’s why the Pebble Partnership has resorted to buying its local “support.”

But Alaskans aren’t easily bamboozled. Click here to add your voice to the opposition and stop the Pebble Mine. 

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Comments

4 PebbleSep 24 2012 08:27 PM

I would strongly disagree with your notion that an "overwhelming" amount of Alaskans oppose Pebble. There are a great deal of Alaskans who support Pebble Mine and the opinion of where Alaska as a whole stands on the issue depends on which side you ask. A great deal of the opposition also comes from environmental groups and people who aren't even Alaskan residents. I even saw an anti-pebble sticker in Maine this summer. What does some one in Maine know about the Pebble initiative and why is it their business?!? Stop trying to gain support from outside groups. I'm was born and raised in Alaska and I'm a strong supporter of the Pebble Mine!

Dave KodiakSep 25 2012 12:23 AM

Hey 4 Pebble,

Seriously, get a grip. Disposing of our renewable resources for s filthy gold and copper mine is crazy. You blast outsiders for opposing Pebble, yet the miners are foreign. But more importantly, you can't love Alaska and Pebble too. It ain't possible.

Jon CorbettSep 25 2012 12:56 AM

From here in Bristol Bay I can say that We oppose the industrial scale development required by PLP and the other projects waiting in the wings for Anglo-American's permitting process to succeed and their infrastructure to be built. The exploration alone has already cause declines in Salmon returns for the Koktuli, Upper and Lower Talarik Creeks. Bristol Bay was the only area of AK to meet all their escapement goals this year, just barely though. Why risk it even more?

With last weeks ruling that instructs the Alaska State Department of Natural Resources to re-write their illegally instituted 2005 Bristol Bay Area Plan, hopefully the millions of acres that DNR reclassified from wildlife habitat use to mining will be protected. The State of Alaska will have to provide for 90day public comment period after their new plan is unveiled sometime in January of 2013. The new plan should be in effect sometime in the Summer of 2013.

Thanks to NDRC for bring national attention to this crucial issue...

Jon Corbett

Melvin WillardSep 25 2012 01:40 PM

Why not Pebble? Aren't 500-1000 jobs for 50-75 years worth sacrificing 2,000-5,000 jobs that otherwise would go into perpetuity?

Jeanne DevonSep 25 2012 05:17 PM

You can disagree with "overwhelming" all you like, but almost 70% of Alaskans oppose the mine, and more than 80% of commercial fishermen oppose it. I don't know what it takes to overwhelm you, but that's pretty decisive. Alaskans stand to gain nothing from this mine except a few jobs, maybe. On the other hand, we have everything to lose, including thousands of jobs, and the world's largest wild salmon fishery - nevermind the local cultural impact, and environmental impact on the larger region. Why do people outside care? Um. Because they eat our fish and they like it. It's kind of a big industry here. The outside groups that should stay the hell out of Alaska are Anglo American (UK) and Northern Dynasty Minerals (Canada).

Dylan McFarlaneSep 26 2012 08:27 AM

Miss Kiekow - You are paid to promote your organization's agenda , which is formally stated as this: Safeguard the Earth. Your organization is clearly ideological and the NRDC and similar organizations receive significant financial support from Bob Gillam, overwhelming the main opponent to this project. Do you remember how he paid the Russian Orthodox Church for their stated opposition? He even flew them around in a jet across Bristol Bay!

Here is a story I would like you to investigate. My very good friend, Trevor Oester, also of Fairbanks, Alaska has been a commercial fisherman and mineral exploration geologist for several years. He goes back and forth between industries, understands their pros and cons, and does what he needs to survive. Recently, he's been fishing from Cordova, where he's faced bullying and vandalism for his support of the Pebble project. One day, a gang of fishermen tried roughing him up in the local pub and starting a fight. You should interview him, that's if his legs aren't broken and his tongue cut off before the next ballot initiative.

I am not going to comment on the Anti-Pebble booth I walked past at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks. Wow - they were not interested in any discussion about anything, that's for sure!

Last night I re-read a couple old articles posted in Mother Jones. Although it's also biased towards the project, the "Midas" series of articles were good analytical critiques of the project's possible cultural impacts. Your posts and your colleagues posts' use a virulent diction, which is more reflective of yourself than it is the subjects.

Do you believe in bullying, bulldozing, and strong-arming is the route to a successful project? I don't think you do, so your accusations of mafia-like behavior on the part of Pebble staff is unsubstantiated and inappropriate. I suggest you review the history of CEO Shivley's involvement at the Red Dog mine - and persuade me that it is not a successful operation, good for the economy, environment, and people of Northwest Alaska.

Taryn Kiekow HeimerSep 26 2012 09:56 PM

Thanks, everyone, for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

To 4 Pebble: As other commenters have noted, you can take exception to my use of the adverb “overwhelming” to describe the opposition, but there is no denying that over 80% of the region – and 65% of the state – oppose Pebble Mine. Over 80% opposition on any public issue – let alone resource extraction in Alaska – is overwhelming in my mind.

To Dylan: you made my point perfectly. Everyone knows I am employed by NRDC and that NRDC is committed to stopping Pebble Mine. People clearly understand what they are signing if they sign one of our petitions. On the other hand, Pebble has hired signature gatherers to canvas Fairbanks asking people to sign a petition that ensures "environmental review" of Pebble Mine. That sure sounds anti-Pebble to me. Anyone could have accidently signed it mistakenly thinking they were signing a petition to prevent Pebble Mine. You are absolutely correct that neither I, nor any of the groups I work with, condone violence or the "mafia-like tactics" you describe. I'm sorry to hear about your friend and hope he is okay. What you describe is assault, and it is illegal. This fight is not about violence – it’s about doing the right thing. Pebble Mine is simply the wrong mine in the wrong place.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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