Council seeks to rescind mine study comments

JUNEAU — The Iliamna Village Council has asked to rescind an analysis it submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that backs up conclusions by the federal agency about the potentially negative impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region.

But the EPA said the analysis will remain part of the public record.

The analysis of the EPA’s report by Donald Macalady, professor emeritus of chemistry and geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines, also suggested broader impacts than what the EPA looked at in its revised watershed assessment released in April.

Macalady’s review was accompanied by a letter from the village council president, Lorene Anelon, dated June 29, in which she expressed frustration with the EPA process.

Days later, she submitted a council resolution, dated July 2, rescinding the review and directing it not be made part of the official record as the council’s position. 

The resolution says the council “inadvertently” sent in written testimony signed by Anelon and that Anelon hired Macalady “without full authority of the Council” to submit testimony for the EPA comment period.

A letter accompanying the resolution from Anelon said the council does not support keeping lands in the watershed area off limits to exploration and development.

“Closure of such Bristol Bay lands will cause hardship to many Native families of the impact area,” she wrote.

The comments were among the thousands submitted on the EPA assessment that can be read online. The EPA, in a statement Tuesday, said comments made to the public comment docket cannot be retrieved once submitted. To make changes, people must submit another comment referring to their previous comment correcting any errors and/or re-stating their position or opinion, EPA said.