By Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News
Monday mornings have a bad rap. This past Monday I was woken in the early hours with this:
“Despite our belief that Pebble is a deposit of rare magnitude and quality, we have taken the decision to withdraw following a thorough assessment of Anglo American’s extensive pipeline of long-dated project options. Our focus has been to prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio.”
I rubbed my eyes. Was I dreaming or was one of my dreams coming true?
Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American, which held half of the Pebble Partnership’s interest, had put out a statement on a Monday morning cutting ties to the disaster waiting to happen. It has invested $541 million and is taking a $300 million penalty to be out of Alaska.
Many of us were hopeful when “Cyanide Cynthia” Carroll left Anglo American last year, and my thanks to Mr. Cutifani for his mastery of the obvious. Wrong Mine. Wrong Place.
Within hours Northern Dynasty’s stock was falling fast. Anglo didn’t announce the plan on a Friday afternoon to give cover to the remaining partner.
Apparently the decision didn’t come until well into the day on Sunday. In 2011, Northern Dynasty had put its 50 percent interest up for sale. It put the plan for the mine online. (I know, that made the whole “we don’t have a plan” thing a bit awkward.) It also submitted the same plan to the Securities Exchange Commission. The fact is Northern Dynasty doesn’t build mines. It prospects and permits and partners with developers. Any future development partners should know they are betting on a lame horse if they buy into business with it.
A few weeks ago I stopped by to see a couple of buddies who work at a local car wash. Completely opposite to my politics, and always good for a conversation. They had a stack of magnets that had come off vehicles that said “Pro Pebble” and the “No Closed Mines.”
Really? You can’t commit to a sticker? You go magnet. Probably a good thing.
Last weekend a friend asked me, “Are we going to win this fight against Pebble?”
It never occurred to me we Alaskans wouldn’t prevail in this fight. The option is too devastating to consider.
We’ve been able to survive some pretty nasty politics and terrible policies. Palin and Parnell have a shelf life; the pollution from Pebble would not.
My list of why Alaska wins with the protection of Bristol Bay probably doesn’t look like that of the NGOs and folks on the ground. A picture was posted not long ago of a woman getting a No Pebble logo tattooed on her shoulder. Indelible ink, not magnets. A friend of mine wore No Pebble pasties at a celebrate salmon party. People send me pictures of No Pebble stickers from all over the world. Really. I know these things seem silly but the bottom line is you don’t get that kind of devotion from the other side.
The fact is, if it wasn’t for the tireless work of Alaska Native tribes and corporations, commercial fishermen, sportfishing business owners and yes, the most unlikely of allies imaginable, the Fairbanks born-and-bred millionaire money manager Bob Gillam, there may already have been a giant hole in Bristol Bay’s headwaters.
The funding for the project was cut off in a sweet Monday morning memo. Our work to protect Bristol Bay forever isn’t over.
If justice is served, the courts will uphold the decision made by the residents of the Lake and Peninsula Borough to have a say in their destiny. The state needs a change at the helm for a governor and state legislators who will pledge to save a renewable resource over a nonrenewable resource. The Environmental Protection Agency needs to live up to its name and through the science of the watershed assessment bolt the door behind Anglo American.
Here’s hoping your freezers are full, canners are rattling and smokers a puffing away for many, many years to come.