Dunleavy is doing the right thing on Pebble

Gov. Mike Dunleavy came into office with a message to potential investors that Alaska was open for business. It was not a carte blanche invitation to roll into the state and get rubber-stamped permits. Rather, it was a message to potential investors that if they play by the rules and meet strict state and federal regulations, then Alaska will provide a fair process to determine if a project is right for us. Here’s how the Dunleavy message applies to the Pebble Project: Prove your project under our rules, using solid science, and if it’s good for Alaska – we will welcome the opportunity. How will we know it’s good for Alaska? The permitting process. That’s the scientific review by which we evaluate all projects. And that’s the counterpoint to all the madness over Pebble.

Outside environmental groups don’t want Pebble examined under the light of science because it will pass with flying colors. So their efforts have not been aimed at protecting Bristol Bay; instead, they have been trying to stop the permitting process designed to determine if Pebble meets our high standards. Alaskans are familiar with the Obama Administration’s “pre-emptive veto” on the Pebble project. In their wisdom, they deemed the project bad without fully examining Pebble’s actual proposal. Fortunately, the Trump administration reversed the veto, and now we’re beginning to find that the project is technically sound. Preliminary findings from the Army Corps of Engineers are already revealing that the project will not damage the fishery and will not have detrimental impacts on the culture of the region. The hysteria about fish catastrophes painted by the environmental lobbyists and professional fundraisers is beginning to fade as science is proving the Pebble Project to be safe and beneficial. We owe Gov. Dunleavy a debt of gratitude, not for sticking up for Pebble, because that’s not what he’s done. He saw that the Obama pre-emption was an attack on Alaska’s sovereignty. The mine is on state land and, if approved, it will provide jobs and economic opportunities in a region that desperately needs them. The federal government doesn’t have any business folding its arms and saying: “You didn’t say, 'Mother, may I?”

Due to his association with President Donald Trump, Gov. Dunleavy was able to get lifted the Obama Administration’s pre-emption of fair process. Because Dunleavy respects science and took action to protect our sovereignty, the decision to go forward with the mine resides in the hands of Alaskans, not outside environmental organizations more interested in using Pebble to raise money than to actually evaluate it on the merits. Furthermore, Gov. Dunleavy is right to support litigation to bury the preemptive ban for good. At its core, it is a denial of due process for investors who are willing to follow the rules and pay significant sums to engage in legal activities that move our economy forward. Governor Dunleavy understands that the building blocks of Alaska’s economy begin with responsible resource development. For decades, national environmental organizations have attempted to manipulate our economy from a safe distance with no repercussions – ANWR, Tongass, the pipeline, OCS drilling. Under the ruse of saving the environment they have raised a lot of money by blocking everything we try to do in Alaska. If Alaska really has an independent spirit we need to prove it by standing against outside interests attempting to thwart our future. That’s what Gov. Dunleavy is doing.

So much for the faux environmentalists; what about the fishermen? If the things said about Pebble were true, they would have every reason to oppose the mine. Unfortunately, they’ve been lied to, and the science coming out of the preliminary enviromental impact statement is beginning to prove the malignancy of the lies they’ve been told. There is no toxic tsunami, there is no cyanide. Earthquakes are not a factor, and it would take a flood of near-biblical proportions to overwhelm the design of the mine. In addition, water would somehow have to flow uphill to affect the streams that the enviro-lobbyists claim would be wiped out. The governor has acted with a clear head and in the best interests of Alaska. Science and technical data are proving Pebble is a safe mine that will be compatible with the fishery and provide hundreds of long term high paying jobs to a region that is currently in collapse. He is also showing potential investors that if you follow Alaska’s rules, we’ll fight for your project. That is exactly what a good governor should do.

Pete Kelly is a Fairbanks businessman. He formerly represented Fairbanks in the Alaska Senate. He is employed as a lobbyist by a firm hired by the Pebble Partnership to advocate on its behalf.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.