A Recap From The Homer, Alaska Hearing On The Pebble Mine

A Recap From The Homer, Alaska Hearing On The Pebble Mine

April 15, 2019

Homer, Alaska is a beautiful town on the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula.  It is a town built on fishing and tourism, and a town that recently had three of its city council members face a recall over an anti-Trump, pro-sanctuary city resolution.

On April 11th, Homer High School was the location for the town’s opportunity to provide input on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Pebble Mine.  With extreme environmental groups – including Cook Inletkeeperand Save Bristol Bay– advertising a rally to oppose the DEIS and Pebble’s plans, the general consensus was that Homer would turn out hundreds of area residents to fight the development of a mine that would employ nearly 2,000 people during construction and 1,000 during the operational life of the project.

In my capacity as Power The Future’s Alaska State Director, I attended the hearing and provided testimony supporting the work the Corps put into the DEIS.

As you might expect, environmental extremists were not interested in a reasonable, civil discussion about the Pebble Mine’s benefits and costs. Instead, they came armed with verbal assaults and threatening attacks. It is indicative of the way the eco-left tends to treat those who have facts at the heart of their position.

In fact, these eco-extremists began verbally assaulting me the moment I arrived. One representative of the Cook Inletkeeper, an outside-funded environmental group, hurled curse words at me – words too profane to repeat here. The man even told me to leave and that I was not welcome. He refused to shake my hand.

Power The Future recently profiled Cook Inletkeeper’s record of threatening Alaskan jobs, and how 9 of its top 10 donors are not even from Alaska. You can read more here. Perhaps he had read about the truth of their organization and was not pleased.

Fortunately, I saw a number of people who – despite knowing my pro-energy, pro-job leanings – greeted me warmly, including former State Representative Paul Seaton.

As the hearing started, it was clear the anti-Pebble crowd was in a frenzy.  From the fishermen, housewives, anti-everything activists and scientists who near-unanimously scolded the Corps for what they saw as shoddy work on the DEIS, the applause came loudly and raucously. For the five individuals who spoke positively on the DEIS before me, there was next to no response from the crowd, save a lone whistle of disapproval for one Bristol Bay region villager who said he was glad Pebble was coming to provide jobs for the next generations, as there would be a better chance of having them stay home and not move away from their cultural homes.

At 5:45 pm, many in the crowd went to a 40-minute “rally”, consisting of speakers, songs and instrument playing.  Most had returned as I went to the microphone to provide my testimony.

When I was finished with my three minutes, all heck broke loose. They screamed more profanities at me for the 30 seconds or so it took me to leave the podium and find my seat.

Realizing the crowd was restless, the Corps’ moderator decided to take a 10-minute break.  That was fine with me, as I had to catch a plane back to Anchorage.  Weaving my way through the crowd, I was met with a number of other “pleasantries”, culminating with a tie-dye wearing, “No Pebble Mine” hat over his dreadlocks, elderly man following me out the door toward the parking lot, questioning my heritage, my race, my parents’ marital status when I was born, and many other things.

You may ask, why would I go to such an event, knowing I’ll likely be harassed for my beliefs? I do it because I am speaking the truth – the truth about the need for jobs, and how this project can create them. I won’t let bullies stand in the way of the truth, especially when it does not fit their eco-narrative.

Tomorrow, April 16th, Anchorage will have its chance to host a hearing.  I’ve heard that the Alaska Center (for the Environment), Save Bristol Bay, Cook Inletkeeper and other extremist organizations plan for more than 500 people to attend a rally.

I hope they all enjoy themselves as much as I’m going to enjoy telling them the truth, as I’ll be there, testifying in support of the 1,000 jobs Pebble could bring to a region with high unemployment.