“There Is a Generation of Kids Who Have Nothing to Keep Them Here” Power The Future Energy Hour Recap: Mike Heatwole with Pebble Limited Partnership and Lisa Reimers with Iliamna Development Corporation

“There Is a Generation of Kids Who Have Nothing to Keep Them Here” Power The Future Energy Hour Recap: Mike Heatwole with Pebble Limited Partnership and Lisa Reimers with Iliamna Development Corporation

December 4, 2020

On this week’s Power The Future Energy Hour, Alaska State Director Rick Whitbeck focused on last week’s Record of Decision (RoD) by the US Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit to the Pebble Mine to move forward with its development plans in Southwest Alaska.

After an opening segment where he shared his thoughts on the decision, calling it a political hit-job on what should have been a non-political process, he spoke with Daniel Turner, Power The Future’s founder and Executive Director, in segment two.  They focused on potential President-elect Biden’s call for a “green” energy revolution, and how copper and other rare earth and critical elements would be needed for that task.  With Pebble having gold, copper, molybdenum and rhenium within its footprint, both Daniel and Rick were quick to point out the confusing strategy of denying the permit under the move toward renewable energy.

Mike Heatwole, Pebble Limited Partnership’s VP of Public Affairs, joined the show in segment three.  Giving a factual synopsis of the work done by Pebble between the time the clean Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released by the Corps in July and the denial of its permit last week, Mike expressed concern that the process and denial were certainly not in-line with the science.

“It was certainly some dismaying news, as we received a negative record of decision on the project, largely based on the Corps rejecting our compensatory mitigation plan – and this is after lengthy discussions with them on what they wanted to see in it – and then also finding that the project was not in the public interest.  Both of the decisions by which the Corps chose to reject or deny the permit, we believe, are not based on the very solid record…the final environmental impact statement…”

Mike and Rick then spoke about the timing of the submission of the compensatory mitigation plan and the four-day turnaround from submission to the Corps writing the RoD.  Mike noted that the Corps didn’t even have certain pieces that are needed before writing the document. He went on to outline the next steps for Pebble, as they fight the Corps administratively, before providing very preliminary thoughts about potential litigation, and how their efforts might be affected with a new administration.

The last segment features first-time guest Lisa Reimers, the President of Iliamna Development Corporation, the Alaska Native Village Corporation for the village closest to the Pebble deposit.  Lisa and Rick talked about her lifetime residency in Iliamna, as well as the history between ILC and Pebble; how it got started, and the way it has grown over the years, noting:

“When we first heard about Pebble, we saw the crazy commercials that was propaganda against Pebble, and we actually believed it. And then we came to our senses…and said we’d better figure this out, reach out to Pebble and see if we can work with them…so we reached out to Pebble, they got back with us…and everything we’ve learned about the mining plan with Pebble, we learned that all of the negative propaganda against them was not true…Our village corporation was dormant before Pebble showed up…and they said ‘we’ll work with you with baby steps’, and they brought us along…and it is the best opportunity we’ve had, working with Pebble.”

With ILC’s business plans built around working with the development of the Pebble prospect, Lisa lamented the loss of jobs a scrapped mine plan would have on her village.  She stated:

“There are locals that are pretty upset about it, because they have no other opportunities…there are very few jobs here, and they’re like, ‘What are we gonna do? We have mortgages…truck payments…kids to support.’  You look at the kids, ages one to 16, and wonder, what are they going to do?  There is a generation of kids who have nothing to keep them here.”

It is for those residents that Power The Future will continue to advocate for Pebble.  Without jobs, many of their families will out-migrate to larger towns and cities; breaking up extended families and leading to a loss of important cultural understanding they’d be able to keep if jobs were prevalent.

We thank Mike and Lisa for coming on the Energy Hour and sharing their stories.

If you missed this week’s show live, you can still catch it – as well as every episode from the past 21 months – on Power the Future’s Soundcloud.

The Energy Hour can be heard live every Tuesday night from 5:00-6:00 PM local time on KNVT (92.5 FM, 1020 AM and online at 1020KVNT.com).  The show (also replayed during the same hour on Saturday night) is heard throughout Southcentral Alaska communities, and acts as a recap of Power The Future activities in Alaska, as well as an opportunity to hear from various members of Alaska’s energy and political communities.  Feel free to reach out to Rick@PowerTheFuture.com with show ideas or feedback!