Will Alaska owe Northern Dynasty if it Denies Mining Permits?
The Pebble Mine project is a controversial proposal by Northern Dynasty Minerals to build one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world, in southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna. Northern Dynasty has not yet applied for permits, but their current proposal involves both a large open pit and an underground mine, as well as removal of the water from the headwaters of Upper Talarik Creek and the Koktuli River ( important fish habitats). The site sits at the headwaters of two major Bristol Bay drainages ( Nushagak and Kvichak), and potentially poses a large threat to the region's salmon. This proposal has become a major political issue in Alaska, pitting pro-mining forces against local native villages and commercial and sport fishermen.
No: Once permit applications are filed, the state is free to issue permits, or to deny them.
That's the whole point of the permitting process.
Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), has said that the state advised him that reclassification of the land use of the area to make mining illegal, or regulatory or legislative
action that imposed excessive requirements for necessary permits, could require the state to pay the area claim holder.
Attorney Frances Raskin (who worked on Pebble issues for Trustees of Alaska) has pointed out that even when the company actually owns the land (Pebble is owned by Alaska),
the state can deny development rights.
In a case in South Carolina, a property owner was denied building rights based on erosion prevention measures the state had put in.
For more information, read this article in the Homer News.
Last modified: 2/11/2007