Today another public relations bombshell tore into the Pebble Partnership, with the release of new tapes by the Environmental Investigation Agency showing Northern Dynasty’s Ron Thiessen bragging about the company’s political influence over Alaska Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. Thiessen also boasts how Alaskans will pay at least $1.5 billion for the roads, ports and other infrastructure needed to develop the Pebble Mine.
These new revelations expose to the public what we’ve known for a long time – that the Pebble Mine and other large mining projects rely on political manipulation to rig the permitting system, and they extort desperate state and local governments for massive corporate handouts to prop-up their money-losing projects.
“This is just more corporate socialism,” said Inletkeeper Bob Shavelson. “These giant projects are designed to privatize the profits from our public lands, while pushing the costs for development onto everyday Alaskans. It’s corporate welfare, plain and simple, and Alaskans get stuck with the bill.”
Not surprisingly, Pebble has never produced an economic feasibility study to show its project can stand on its own, and outside experts rightly assert the mine cannot turn a profit. But hidden in Pebble’s opaque but always-rosy financial pronouncements lies a stark truth: Pebble needs a massive infusion of cash from Alaskans before it can ever put a shovel in the ground.
This form of corporate welfare is nothing new to Alaska, especially for the mining industry. For example, the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority (AIDEA) – a state-owned corporation – routinely pumps public money into projects designed to profit Outside investors.
Now, it’s time for Alaskan politicians to stand-up and take the future of our great state seriously.
When the first round of Pebble Tapes rocked Alaska in late September 2020, Inletkeeper broke-down Pebble’s damage control strategy, and posed a simple question:
“Why is Ron Thiessen still on the Pebble Team? Thiessen heads up Northern Dynasty, the Canadian company that wholly owns the Pebble Partnership, and like Tom Collier, he made some outrageous statements on the Pebble Tapes. Most notably, he discussed the importance of using the Governor of Alaska as a conduit to the White House so Pebble could hide evidence of its efforts to rig the permitting process.
It will be hard for Pebble to recover from the devastating revelations in the Pebble Tapes, because they made it clear the rot and stench the tapes exposed run deep through the entire Pebble Partnership.
But as long as people like Ron Thiessen remain in leadership positions, Pebble can never with a straight face tell Alaskans to “trust the process.””
With the new revelations exposed today, questions around Mr. Thiessen’s continued role with the Pebble Partnership become even more pressing. We hope Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, along with Governor Mike Dunleavy, will have some real answers.