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Environmental group goes on offensive against Pebble

Alex DeMarban

The campaign to stop the massive Pebble project is heating up again as two mining companies involved in the effort prepare for annual shareholder meetings.  

"Anglo American and Rio Tinto: What part of No Don't You Understand?" cries a full-page ad in the New York Times paid for by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The gist of the ad is simple: The companies, a big part of the Pebble Partnership that seeks to extract the copper, gold and molybdenum northeast of Bristol Bay, say they favor good community relations. But the ad contends communities in the region want them out.

The ad includes a quote from Cynthia Carroll, Anglo American’s chief executive: “We will not go where communities are against us.”

The ad then notes that polls have shown strong opposition to the mine from area residents, and that local voters passed the Save Our Salmon ballot measure to ban the mine. The companies are fighting that measure.

"They’re challenging the democratic outcome of that vote in court. So much for 'good community relations,' " the ad says.

The campaign coincides with Anglo American and Rio Tinto holding their annual shareholder meetings in London later this week, said Jessica Lass, senior press secretary for the defense council's offices in Los Angeles. An anti-Pebble ad will also run in the Financial Times of London, she said.

At the Anglo meeting, an environmental group plans to distribute petitions with 250,000 signatures opposing the mine.

Also on the horizon in the long-running battle over the project, which has yet to enter a years-long permitting phase, is the release of a Bristol Bay watershed assessment  by the Environmental Protection Agency. Set for May, the controversial assessment is designed to understand the project's potential impact to water quality and salmon in the bay, home to the world's largest wild sockeye fishery.