Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties. Pebble Watch does not attempt to integrate or interpret data; this would occur during an Environmental Impact Statement process. Instead, we seek to help BBNC shareholders better understand data by providing summaries as well as context, such as how the data may be used in the permitting process and how it relates to regulatory benchmarks.
We have created Pebble Watch as a resource primarily for shareholders. Our team includes experienced science communicators as well as environmental scientists, a permitting expert and a geologist with knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) mapping—and the BBNC Land Department. In addition to our print newsletter, we travel to numerous communities to give presentations.
Why is Pebble Watch needed? Well, quite literally, it’s complicated.
The red box on this map indicates the proposed Pebble project location. The project includes both the proposed mine site area and the proposed transportation corridor area.
Now for a quick primer on the permitting process initiated after a new mine plan is submitted: The major driver behind this permitting process is the National Environmental Policy Act, or “NEPA.” When a developer submits its Section 404 permit application to the US Army Corps of Engineers, this sets off a series of other requirements and actions. The first submittal by Pebble developers that we expect to see would be the “Section 404 permit,” required in cases where there will be discharge of dredge or fill material into U.S. waters, including wetlands. The proposed mine is expected to require an EIS process because of its potential impacts.
Feeding the information in the EIS is a series of study reports created by Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP). As of March 2011, the most highly anticipated reports – including one on regional fisheries – had not yet been released.
In May, Northern Dynasty and Pebble Partnership said permitting will begin in late 2012. One of our major efforts with Pebble Watch has been to ensure shareholders are informed about how that permit process will proceed as soon as the first steps are taken. The timeline now on the first draft of the assessment document, as well as the public meetings following that, has been changed. In June, our EPA visitors told us they were shooting for the end of 2011. But very recently, they updated that timeline on their Watershed Assessment webpage to “Spring 2012.”
PLP is expected to release 20 study reports on varying topics. Normally the study reports contain a vast amount if information. The Pebble Watch newsletters offer an informed and valuable way to look at the data – a means to navigate it, and to understand what it means well enough that you can evaluate it for yourself, and maybe come up with new questions that are of significance to you and your community.
Here are the planned topics for 2011, in order: Three newsletters have been published already (Meteorology, Trace Elements, Surface Water and Groundwater Quality) This schedule is subject to change.
Pebble Watch activities include a print newsletter, a website, and in-person visits by the Pebble Watch team. Our efforts are separate from, but complement, the BBNC Responsible Development ad campaign.
In our next three issues, we will be exploring the topics that make up the three Bristol Bay Watershed assessment questions, starting with whether the region is a world-class fishery it is made out to be.
This timeline is based on what we know of the EPA Watershed Assessment. It is subject to change at any time.
The Pebble Watch website, launched in December 2010, is updated weekly with information on resources as well as news related to the Pebble project, and news about Land Department travel and events related to Pebble.
The site features a calendar, where you can keep up on Land Department’s upcoming presentations on Pebble as well as other related Pebble activities.
We have a Frequently Asked Questions section that addresses how the Pebble Watch initiative works and answers some basic, common questions about the proposed Pebble project.
This land ownership map located on our website is part of our FAQ section and helps demonstrate some impacts of the proposed project.
Past and current issues of Pebble Watch newsletters may be downloaded directly from the site.
The fifth issue of the Pebble Watch newsletter covered the ongoing EPA Watershed Assessment process, and was published in July.
The newsletter’s format gives us room to go into more depth on issues that shareholders care about, such as how the EPA can influence the permitting process.
Here’s one example of how the newsletter helps complement the data by putting it into context. On this chart, the team showed how the results from trace elements sampling for copper and arsenic compare with existing benchmarks for animal, human and plant health. (The report itself was mainly just pages and pages of data from individual sampling sites.)
27011 bbnc pebble watch 2011 mar-v3 ag-ss
Pebble Watch 2011-2012
<ul><li>Impartial , educational and fact-based resource to share information about the proposed Pebble project with BBNC shareholders </li></ul><ul><li>Does not integrate or interpret data </li></ul><ul><li>Helps readers better understand data by providing summaries and context : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why is data being collected? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How may data be used in permitting? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do agencies use these data? </li></ul></ul>What is Pebble Watch?
<ul><li>Communication-based initiative and resource: </li></ul><ul><li>In-person meetings/visits – As scheduled and on request </li></ul><ul><li>Print newsletter – mailed to shareholders </li></ul><ul><li>Website – www.PebbleWatch.com </li></ul><ul><li>Science team – Scientists, science communicators and permitting specialist research and address questions </li></ul>What is Pebble Watch?
FIRST, SOME BACKGROUND… Proposed Pebble Project
<ul><li>National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): </li></ul><ul><li>Is triggered by major federal actions (in this case: submittal of Section 404 Permit application to the US Army Corps of Engineers® (USACE ). </li></ul><ul><li>Requires an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or (most likely) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). </li></ul><ul><li>Will be the major driver behind Pebble permitting. </li></ul>Review: What is NEPA?
<ul><li>Study Reports: 20 Study Reports will be incorporated into the final EIS. </li></ul><ul><li>The EIS will be based on the information in these study reports. </li></ul><ul><li>PLP has so far released 14 Study Reports. </li></ul><ul><li>No new reports released since 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Highly anticipated fisheries and wetlands reports/data have not yet been released. </li></ul>Pebble Project Status Update
<ul><li>As of August 2011: </li></ul><ul><li>PLP has publicly named 2012 for permitting </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Baseline document to be released in 2011; Prefeasibility Study in 2012, says PLP </li></ul><ul><li>EPA Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment ongoing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Timing has changed; public meetings now expected spring 2012 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BBNC continues to keep Board Members and shareholders informed through Pebble Watch. </li></ul>Pebble Project Status Update
<ul><ul><li>Pebble Watch: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team summarizes the reports into “bite size” pieces. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each Pebble Watch newsletter focuses on a report or logical grouping of reports. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Newsletters do not integrate the data; the EIS will do that. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals : Give shareholders easier access to the reports and data, help them understand what these say, and how they will be used. </li></ul></ul>Communicating Study Reports
<ul><ul><li>Publication plan, 2011: </li></ul></ul>(*multiple topics in one issue) Study Reports in Pebble Watch
<ul><ul><li>Five newsletters published (Meteorology, Trace Elements, Surface Water & Groundwater Quality, Hydrology and Surficial Geology, EPA Watershed Assessment) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Website online since December 2010, updated weekly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community visits </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complements BBNC Responsible Development ad campaign & video </li></ul>Pebble Watch activities
<ul><li>EPA Watershed Assessment process table: in July 2011 newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>EPA meetings calendar: on Pebble Watch website </li></ul><ul><li>Plans for 2011–2012 include continued communication through the website and newsletters, and new topics based on the Watershed Assessment process. </li></ul>Pebble Watch Updates
Contact Information <ul><ul><li>Tiel Smith BBNC Land Department (907) 278-3602 [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Francisca Demoski BBNC Land Department (907) 265-7827 [email_address] </li></ul></ul>
Website Information <ul><ul><li>www.pebblewatch.com </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>www.bbnc.net </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Our Land) </li></ul></ul>