Anti-Pebble super PAC will support candidates against the proposed mine

A new super PAC that has amassed $600,000 from a single group says it will back federal candidates who support protections for Bristol Bay and who oppose the proposed Pebble mine project in Southwest Alaska.

Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action said Monday that it will focus on additional fundraising to support candidates in the upcoming election cycle.

Former Alaska Senate President Rick Halford, a Republican and longtime opponent of the proposed mine, is senior adviser for the new political action committee.

The committee was created in February, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

The Pebble mine has suffered regulatory setbacks under the Trump and Biden administrations, and the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a process that opponents hope could stop it forever.

Still, the copper and gold project remains alive. If it’s built, critics fear it will destroy the valuable Bristol Bay salmon fishery, while developer Pebble Limited Partnership says the project will protect the environment and promote economic development.

The new PAC intends to make independent expenditures to candidates and raise funds in unlimited amounts, the group has reported to the FEC. Independent expenditure groups are not allowed to coordinate with individual campaigns.

“Alaskans have been fighting the Pebble Mine for nearly two decades, and they want it stopped now,” Halford said in a prepared statement. “We are excited that we already have the resources to provide political support for those candidates who are standing up to provide durable protections for Bristol Bay this year.”

The committee will focus opposition on “those who are ignoring the will of Alaskans and the region,” Halford said, such as those who side with Pebble mine.

The group said that polls continue to show that most Alaskans oppose the mine.

Reached Tuesday by phone, Halford declined to name candidates that the committee might support or oppose.

The new committee received $600,000 late last month from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Sixteen Thirty Fund, commission records show. The New York Times in May described the fund as “among the leading dark money spenders on the left.” The fund does not disclose the identity of its contributors.

The reports show that the group hasn’t yet begun spending money.

Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for Pebble, said in an email last month that the mineral project should be judged on its merits, not politics.

“It is quite ironic that groups who insisted that Pebble should not be a political decision during the Trump administration are clamoring for a political decision via this new PAC,” Heatwole said.

Daily News reporter Nathaniel Herz contributed.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.