by Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay
DILLINGHAM, AK – Alaska’s fishermen are disgusted by recordings released today (Sept. 21st, 2020) that confirm long suspected collusion between Alaska’s state leadership and the Pebble Limited Partnership as well as a federal permitting process wholly corrupted by Pebble’s lobbying influence.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released the so-called ‘The Pebble Tapes’, recordings of conversations between EIA investigators and executives from the company behind the contested Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
“Today the curtain was finally pulled back on all our suspicions about Pebble’s undue influence in the permitting process,” said Katherine Carscallen, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay. “These recordings have Pebble executives not just confirming the corruption we’ve always suspected, but literally bragging about how they’ve worked behind the scenes with Alaska’s leadership and government agencies to design a process that serves their company. If our Senators hope to restore any public trust in this process, now is the time.”
Particularly concerning are statements Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier and Northern Dynasty President and CEO Ron Thiessen made alleging that they essentially have Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan fully in their camp, referencing inaction that has played in the company’s favor, in spite of statements to the public which imply otherwise;
“The way that Sen. Murkowski has done that is that when she’s asked a question she says things that don’t sound supportive of Pebble, OK?” Collier stated in one recording. “But when it comes time to vote, when it comes time to do something, she never does anything to hurt Pebble. Never.”
The videos also describe a relationship of influence through the highest levels of Alaskan leadership, the White House, and Army Corps of Engineers. Referring to Tom Collier’s political influence working through Governor Dunleavy, Ron Thiessen stated: “It’s better for us if we want to push that envelope that Tom talks to the Governor of the State of Alaska and the Governor of the State of Alaska picks up the phone and calls the Chief of Staff to the White House.”
“It is alarming to see just how corrupt and politically-driven the Pebble permitting process has become, especially when you have more than 14,000 American jobs and our country’s top supplier of wild salmon on the line,” said Mike Friccero, a 40 veteran Bristol Bay fisherman and fleet spokesman, “For years, Bristol Bay’s fishermen have been looking to Alaska’s Senators for their leadership and action on this issue. According to Pebble’s statements in these videos, our requests to Senators Murkowski and Sullivan have been wasted breath and their ongoing silence and lack of action has been their way of supporting Pebble. If the Senators hope to restore our faith in this process and in them, then we need a swift response and their support of a complete time-out of the Pebble permitting process.”
Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay is a national coalition of fishermen working to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska and the 14,000 jobs, $500 million in annual income, and $1.5 billion in economic activity that Bristol Bay’s wild salmon provide.