Mark Hamilton, Executive Vice President for External Affairs for the Pebble Partnership, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about the Pebble Mine during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mark Hamilton, Executive Vice President for External Affairs for the Pebble Partnership, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about the Pebble Mine during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Pebble VP: Project ‘OK’ if salmon measure passes

At Chamber luncheon, mine rep says Ballot Measure 1 will hurt small groups, not much-protested Pebble project

Mark Hamilton, head external affairs for the group pushing the controversial Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay, told a crowd at the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Thursday that he’s not worried for the future of the project under a habitat protection measure up for a vote in the Nov. 6 statewide election.

Ballot Measure 1, known as Stand for Salmon, would change how the State of Alaska permits development on salmon habitat. A point of contention between backers and opponents has been what kinds of building would be permitted under the law and which would be denied.

[Salmon ballot measure splits Native tribal, corporate interests]

Some have speculated that the measure would kill the Pebble project. But Hamilton told the Chamber crowd that existing permitting requirements are so strong, he’s not concerned new requirements would squash Pebble.

“I don’t worry so much about what it would do to the mine. The mine is already in a process that’s just brutally difficult and very, very specific, very science-based. Frankly, I think Pebble Mine would probably do OK,” he said.

The Pebble Limited Partnership has donated $800,000 to Stand for Alaska, the main group opposing Ballot Measure 1, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Hamilton is against the measure, he said, because he believes it will make routine building in Alaska more difficult, something the measure’s backers have called a mischaracterization.

“It’s the church that wants to expand their parking lot that’s in trouble here. It’s normal, reasonable projects. I don’t fight against this thing because of Pebble Mine, I fight against this thing because all of the other things it would face,” Hamilton said.

Ballot Measure 1 creates different permitting paths for differently sized projects. The measure would provide for three types of permits for development on anadromous (e.g. salmon) fish habitats. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game could issue a general permit — a single permit that applies to many people — for certain activities.

[Fish fight fills forum]

For other developments on anadromous fish habitat, Stand for Salmon would establish a two-track permitting system, one for major projects and one for minor projects.

Projects that pose a risk of “significant adverse effects” to anadromous fish habitat would be considered major, while ones that don’t have potential to for significant harm would be considered minor.

Interference with spawning, impairment or degradation to habitat, and changes that increase fish mortality are all considered significant adverse effects, according to the measure’s language.

While several state commissioners have said the measure would make some construction projects impossible, Fish and Game has written in an official FAQ that the measure would not stop development in Alaska.

The Pebble Project, 100 percent owned by mining company Northern Dynasty, is currently applying for its latest round of permits. The copper and gold mine wouldn’t be open for about least four-six years, Hamilton said.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 8

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Capital Transit buses stop at the Valley Transit Center on Thursday. Two bus routes serving areas of the Mendenhall Valley and near the airport will temporarily be discontinued starting April 22 due to lack of staff. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Capital Transit temporarily suspending two Mendenhall Valley routes due to shortage of drivers

Officials hope to fix situation by July; extra tourist buses also scaled back due to fleet shortage.

A fenced lot proposed as a campsite for people experiencing homelessness located next to the city’s cold weather emergency shelter, in the background, is also next door to a businesses where extensive construction is scheduled, thus prompting city leaders to rethink the proposal. (Photo by Laurie Craig)
Indefinite ‘dispersed camping’ for homeless proposed by city leaders due to lack of suitable campsite

Proposed Rock Dump site is next to long-term construction, more costly than expected, report states.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 10, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, watches as the tally board in the Alaska House of Representatives shows the vote against House Joint Resolution 7 on Thursday. Eastman supported the amendment. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House votes down constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

Guarantee had been discussed as part of long-term plan to bring state expenses in line with revenue.

Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer and co-chair of the House Finance Committee, speaks Thursday on the House floor about the state’s operating budget. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House passes draft state budget amid warnings that state spending doesn’t balance

Changes during floor debate include $9M by Rep Andi Story, D-Juneau, for youth reading program.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy tells reporters that he needs to see lawmakers pass his reforms before he allows a permanent increase to funding for schools on Tuesday. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Alaskans support increased education funding, reforms, according to Dunleavy poll

Majority of those polled say they think “change and reform” are key to improving Alaska’s test scores.

Most Read