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T&I Chairs Press Pebble Limited Partnership and Army Corps for Records after Secret “Pebble Tapes” Reveal Company’s Contradictory Claims about the Mine Project’s Size and Duration

November 20, 2020

Members request records regarding any plans by Pebble to expand its proposed Pebble Mine beyond what it submitted to the Army Corps in its 2017 permit application

In the Members’ request: “Pebble was dealing with two sets of facts, one to lure potential investors to the Pebble project and one to alleviate fears of Alaskan Natives, the U.S. Congress and Federal agencies…”

Washington, D.C. – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) sent letters to the Pebble Limited Partnership (Pebble) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) requesting records about the proposed Pebble Mine Project after secret recordings of Pebble’s senior leaders—known as the “Pebble Tapes”—suggest that Congress, the Army Corps and the public may have been misled about Pebble’s planned scale and scope of the mine. Pebble’s permit application limits the duration of the mine to 20 years, yet the private recordings show Pebble’s leaders believe it will operate for nearly 200 years and continually expand.
 
In the two letters that were sent to John Shively (Interim Chief Executive Officer of Pebble) and Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon (Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the Army Corps), DeFazio and Napolitano expressed deep concern that statements made by top Pebble officials in these candid recordings directly contradicted the information that was presented in both the permit to the Army Corps as well as in testimony by the former CEO of Pebble to the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure last year—acts that are misleading and possibly illegal. For example, despite Ronald Thiessen (President, CEO and Director of Pebble’s parent company, Northern Dynasty) and Tom Collier (then-CEO of Pebble) publicly telling the Army Corps and the Committee respectively that they would not try to expand Pebble Mine’s size, capacity or duration, the “Pebble Tapes” made clear that they were saying the opposite in private.
 
“From the private discussions revealed by the ‘Pebble Tapes,’ it seems as though Pebble was dealing with two sets of facts, one to lure potential investors to the Pebble project and one to alleviate fears of Alaskan Natives, the U.S. Congress and Federal agencies of potential adverse environmental impacts from the mine” wrote DeFazio and Napolitano in their letters to Shively and Spellmon. “Pebble appears to have shuffled its deck of facts depending on the players at the table.”
 
The Members continued in their letters: “In order for our Committee to gain a fuller and more accurate account of Pebble’s true intent regarding the scale, scope and duration of the proposed Pebble Mine and to help ascertain Mr. Collier’s truthfulness in his testimony to this Committee, we are requesting copies of all records related to the intended, anticipated or potential length, capacity, size or scope of the Pebble Mine.”
 
The full letter to John Shively can be found here.
 
The full letter to Lt. Gen. Spellmon can be found here.
 
Additional information:
 
In August 2020, Chair DeFazio issued a statement committing to continued oversight of the Pebble Mine Project after the Army Corps sent a letter to the Pebble Limited Partnership requesting additional scrutiny of the project. To read his full statement, click here.
 
In July 2020, when the Army Corps released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the Pebble Mine project, DeFazio and Napolitano decried the Trump administration’s push to approve the project. To read their full statements, click here.
 
In June 2020, DeFazio sent a letter to Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite of Army Corps to push for additional consultation before the Army Corps finalized the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as it relates to the Pebble Mine Project, due to concerns raised by local tribes and communities. To read the full letter, click here.
 
In November 2019, DeFazio sent a letter to Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, expressing his concerns with the Corps’ review of the Clean Water Act permit for the development of an open pit mine to be constructed in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. DeFazio urged the Corps to immediately prepare a revised EIS that addresses shortfalls contained in the earlier EIS. To read the full letter, click here
 
On October 23, 2019, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing titled “The Pebble Mine Project: Process and Potential Impacts.” To hear from those who testified before the Committee, and who are directly affected by this proposed plan, click here.
 
In July 2018, DeFazio and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) sent a letter requesting an update on EPA’s environmental review of the proposed Pebble Mine project in Alaska, among other things. That letter can be found here
 

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