The Pebble prospect represents one of the most significant copper deposits in North America and is located on state lands that are open to mineral development. Pebble is not yet in the permitting phase, but rest assured that Alaska has a rigorous and stringent regulatory process for development projects. Pebble will require more than 60 different types of state and federal permits and other approvals, including 23 related to water alone.
So I was surprised by a recent letter to the editor criticized the state's mine permitting process, claiming "generic" statutory language lets the DNR commissioner make back room deals and "political calls."
The duties of the commissioner regarding the determination of water rights in Alaska are clearly spelled out, including use of a standardized procedure for processing applications and issuing permits, recording and reporting of all permits, and coordinating with federal, state, and local agencies in all matters related to water use. This leaves no room for "private negotiation and judgment" by the DNR commissioner. It is absolutely misleading to suggest otherwise.
-- Mary Ann Pease