If Governor Mike Dunleavy was giving his position on the Pebble Mine to a room full of  Bristol Bay fishermen  he would say “rather than developing minerals across the globe, in locations with little or no environmental safeguards, we should be doing our part here to allow Alaska resources to move safely to market.”

That’s according to spokesman, Matt Shuckerow, when Fish Radio asked why Dunleavy has sided with the Pebble Mine in a lawsuit against Alaska salmon fishermen.

He added that: “Like all natural resource development projects the governor would like to see the Pebble project follow the established permitting process. He says the outcome of that process will ultimately determine if the project meets the standards set forward in law and regulation.”

An Anchorage judge heard oral arguments Monday and said she will provide a written judgment but did not mention when.

The state joined in a lawsuit by six members of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) which since 2005 has been funded by a voluntary one percent tax on fishermen’s salmon catches.

The lawsuit, paid for by the Pebble Partnership, claims the association is out of bounds in speaking out against the proposed mine.

Dario Borghesan, assistant attorney general with the Alaska Department of Law, spoke with KDLG in Dillingham –

“So our position is that they used pretty specific language about promoting and marketing regional seafood products. You know, it looks like the activities that BBRSDA is undertaking are outside that statutory purpose.”  

Dunleavy’s stance reverses the policy of two previous governors – Parnell and Walker – who acknowledged the association’s authority to spend funds at its own discretion. BBRSDA attorney Scott Kendall –

“What’s changed between the last seven years and Monday of this week? They’ve reversed that precedent. The statutes haven’t changed. The only thing that appears to have changed is the posture of the administration.”

Kendall told KDLG that not weighing in on a mine that could hurt the salmon fishery is out of the question.

“The economics of a fishery are pounds of fish times the per-pound value. Pebble Mine could impact both negatively. It could reduce the abundance of the fishery. And no matter what, a major mine going into that area will degrade the region’s image as wild and unspoiled.”

As for the amicus brief filed by the State of Alaska, Shuckerow said: “The State of Alaska’s interest is ensuring that regional seafood marketing associations, which were created by the Alaska Legislature for a specific purpose of marketing and promoting seafood products, are sticking to their statutory purposes, are not engaging in activities that the Legislature did not intend, and are spending funds appropriated by the Legislature in accordance with the purpose for which they were appropriated.”

Dunleavy also did not support expanding the time for public comments on the Pebble Mine permit, which was extended to July 1.

To comment on the Pebble Mine plans, find links here or send emails to  drafteis@comments.pebbleprojecteis.com —

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