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 kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

Courtesy Photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Dunleavy signs budget

PFD of about $3,200, $400 million in vetoes to Legislature-approved items among declared highlights

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

The Norwegian Sun sat moored in Juneau on Monday after striking striking ice Saturday afternoon near Yakutat Bay on its way to Skagway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Update: Cruise ship that struck iceberg departs Juneau

It’s heading to Seattle for repairs.

Molly Smith directs Brad Oscar and the cast of Damn Yankees in 2005 at Arena Stage. (Courtesy Photo / Arena Stage)
Americana exceptionalism: Perseverance Theatre founder Molly Smith to retire from Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Perseverance Theatre founder Molly Smith retiring at Arena Stage after 25 years in Washington, D.C.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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

Most Read