Cantwell Calls for Justice Department to Investigate Pebble Mine Following Revelations in Leaked Tapes

Senator also says legislation is needed to block Pebble Mine permitting until an investigation is completed

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation to examine discrepancies between what company executives promoting the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, said in recently-released tapes and how they characterized the project’s scope and plans in legally-binding documents, as well as congressional testimony:

“The Pebble Tapes make one thing very clear: the Pebble Limited Partnership will stop at nothing to build their disastrous mine, even if it means lying on their permit application, deceiving their investors, or possibly perjuring themselves in front of Congress. The Department of Justice should investigate what is disclosed in these disturbing Pebble Tapes.

“The science is clear—the Pebble Mine poses a direct threat to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Yet the Trump administration has consistently listened to politically connected corporate interests over scientists, so I remain unconvinced they will not someday greenlight this monstrous project.

“We must do everything we can to protect Bristol Bay salmon and the thousands of American jobs that depend on them. To that end, I would support legislation that would block Pebble Mine permitting until we can get to the bottom of these shocking revelations.”

At a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in October 2019, Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier testified that “Pebble has no current plans, in this application or in any other way, for expansion.” Permitting documents Pebble Mine has submitted to the government would allow the mine to operate for 20 years, but what executives of the company say on the released tapes suggests the company has plans for a mine running for up to 200 years, with a planned expansion of the mine’s capacity after the first 20 years. Additionally, contradictory statements made by the company in their filings back in 2013 led Cantwell to request an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into whether the company misled investors. A recent New York Times analysis of video and transcripts of the leaked tapes described inconsistencies between the recordings and the company’s permit application currently under consideration by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Senator Cantwell has been the leading congressional opponent of the Pebble Mine, which threatens to irreparably damage hundreds of miles of habitat in the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Every year, 40-60 million salmon return to the watershed, which supports thousands of fishing and tourism jobs throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

She has long fought to protect the Bristol Bay watershed and its important environmental and economic place in the Pacific Northwest. In January of 2014, she called on the Obama administration to protect Bristol Bay from mining after a report showed the proposed mine would threaten salmon runs and damage the commercial and recreational fishing industry. In July of 2014, Cantwell praised proposed science-based protections for the Bristol Bay watershed. In October of 2017, Cantwell and other members of the Washington state congressional delegation urged President Trump to listen to Washington fishermen and businesses before removing protections from Bristol Bay. In May 2018, Cantwell called on the Trump administration to hold public meetings in Washington state on the proposal and increase transparency for the permitting process. And in July 2019, Cantwell slammed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw protections for Bristol Bay.

Earlier this year she applauded the president’s son for coming out against the mine and supported the Army Corps of Engineers’ determination that the mine could not move forward with its current proposal.