Another big lobbying year for industry, Pebble venture

Dylan Brown, E&E News reporter

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The company behind the Pebble mine outspent its critics last year on K Street as the mining sector overall doled out more lobbying cash for a second straight year.

In the last quarter of 2018, Pebble LP registered one of the 10 largest lobbying contracts on Capitol Hill. The mining company paid $410,000 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Over the course of 2018, the nation's top lobbying firm received a total of $740,000 from Pebble for eight lobbyists.

That was actually $10,000 less than the year before, but since signing the contract in August 2015, Pebble has paid Akin Gump $2.4 million to help ferry its major gold, copper and molybdenum mine proposal through the federal permitting process.

The Army Corps of Engineers is slated to release a draft environmental impact statement soon, but the Trump administration has not eliminated proposed EPA restrictions that limit the mine's scope in order to protect salmon in the Bristol Bay region.

With uncertainty still hanging over the project, Pebble spent at least $1.21 million total last year on lobbying contracts and the services of in-house lobbyists and Senior Vice President Peter Robertson, a former EPA staffer.

Pebble also hired Squire Patton Boggs, the nation's fourth-largest lobbying firm, in February 2018. The company spent $380,000 last year for a team of lobbyists, which has added late Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) former chief of staff Pablo Carrillo since registering (Greenwire, Feb. 28, 2018).

Former California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo's lobbying shop, Gavel Resources LLC, got $90,000 from Pebble last year, while the company terminated its contract with Van Ness Feldman LLP after spending less than $20,000 in 2018.

Critics

The groups fighting the Pebble mine also spent on lobbyists, though far less.

Western-focused lobby shop Strategies 360 received $80,000 from the Bristol Bay Native Corp. (BBNC). Lobbyists Tylynn Gordon, Matt Gall and Phil Hardy have worked on behalf of the Alaska Native group since April 2017.

BBNC also employed the services of Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot last year, but the firm worked on federal procurement programs, not the Pebble mine. The long-running lobbying contract was also terminated in last year's first quarter.

The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. also paid for lobbying work unrelated to the mine. Last year, the group spent $102,000 for Adams and Reese LLP to work on maritime issues and less than $20,000 for KPMG LLP to examine tax issues.

The Pebble mine, however, did make the list of lobbying issues for the New Venture Fund.

The Washington, D.C.-based liberal nonprofit sparked controversy last year as a key donor for the Stand for Salmon initiative in Alaska (Energywire, Oct. 26, 2018). The ballot measure, which would have tightened regulations for anadromous fish impacts, failed, but campaign Director Ryan Schryver got his paychecks from the New Venture Fund.

At the same time last year on Capitol Hill, the nonprofit hired Natural Resource Results LLC. The New Venture Fund spent $90,000 on lobbying to "support robust transparent review of Pebble Mine permit application," according to lobbying disclosure.

Its lobbyists assigned were George W. Bush administration staffers David Anderson and Mitch Butler, along with Sara Tucker, a former Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staffer.

The same three worked on Bristol Bay as one of many issues for Trout Unlimited. The anglers' group paid Natural Resource Results $80,000 in 2018.

The contract was part of $375,000 Trout Unlimited paid for lobbying in 2018, including work done in-house by Steve Moyer, senior vice president for government affairs, on a slate of topics, including Bristol Bay.

The Pacific Seafood Processors Association paid its in-house lobbyist Kristine Lynch between $30,000 and $35,000 to work on Bristol Bay issues as the canners' lobbying disclosure cited "fish habitat impacted by proposed Pebble Mine."

The League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also listed the Pebble mine or Bristol Bay as a lobbying focus.

The Alaska Conservation Foundation did not continue lobbying on the issue last year, but the National Taxpayers Union did, listing it as an issue in-house lobbyist Pete Sepp was monitoring.

Mining sector

Despite having only one asset, Pebble LP ranked fourth on the list of top lobbying spenders in the mining industry.

Overall, the sector doled out $17.8 million to K Street, up from $14.9 million in 2017 and a second consecutive annual increase, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (E&E Daily, Jan. 26).

The company atop the list was Peabody Energy Corp. The nation's biggest coal producer spent $1.65 million on lobbying in 2018, compared with $1.5 million the previous year.

After leading mining spending last year, the National Mining Association finished second as its lobbying payments dropped from $1.9 million to $1.6 million last year.

International titan Rio Tinto PLC overtook gold giant Newmont Mining Corp. to take third place overall and the top hardrock mining company slot.

Rio spent $1.3 million on lobbying last year, up from $950,000. Newmont paid $1.1 million, up from $988,000.

The sixth, seventh and eighth largest mining lobbying expenditures were $670,000 by Canadian company Barrick Gold Corp., $620,000 by Arch Coal Inc. and $530,000 by coal firm Contura Energy Inc.

Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, a subsidiary of Chilean copper king Antofagasta PLC, spent $440,000 on lobbying as its project remains ensnared in the federal courts and permitting process (Greenwire, Jan. 23).

Rounding out the top 10 was Tahoe Resources Inc. The Canadian company paid $430,000 for lobbyists to defend its business operations in Guatemala, for which President Trump has threatened to cut off aid.

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify lobbying spending for Peabody Energy Corp. and the Pebble project because of discrepancies between lobbying disclosures and data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Twitter: @DylanBrown26 Email: dbrown@eenews.net

BOF rejects ACRs on hatchery issue

“I’ve read all the science,” McCune said during oral comments at the work session. “Nobody can say for certain what is going on in the ocean. I think what we need to be doing here is basing everything on science, and not emotion. I think we can do a better job. I encourage NOAA to go out in the ocean and I hope we can get a little better picture of what is happening,” he said.

Hatchery egg take levels still a volatile topic

“Hatcheries contribute to economic stability in the Prince William Sound region and Prince William Sound hatchery stocks are utilized by sportfish, subsistence and commercial users,” wrote Gerald McCune, president of Cordova District Fishermen United. “The hatchery program in Prince William Sound was created with the intent to protect fisheries during weaker wild salmon runs. Without hatchery operations this year, with the Copper River District closed for much of the season, the gillnet and seine fleets in Area E would have had very little opportunity to fish, and the impacts to our community would have been profound and devastating.”

Centuries of tradition: Wild salmon subsistence and trade supports First People of Prince William Sound

In a world with a large and growing population, and so much protein already produced in ways that are damaging to the environment, the Native Village of Eyak supported salmon stock enhancement in Prince William Sound decades ago. These methods provided an environmentally responsible means of feeding a world desperate for high-quality protein while providing greater opportunity for tribal fishermen to continue the tradition of benefitting from trade and commerce; a win-win!

Haisman hired as CDFU executive director

“My number one goal with CDFU is to give our fishermen a voice when it comes to issues that affect our fisheries,” she said. “I’d love to see more of the younger generation of fishermen getting involved, testifying and writing letters, so that we can ensure that in 10, 20, 50 years from now, our children and their children have a sustainable and productive industry.”

The Cordova Times

Appreciation luncheon honors USCG

Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cordova and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore were honored at the event, which had guardsmen cheering and clapping as names were drawn periodically in a raffle for prizes donated by the community and businesses.

Guard members were also given certificates of appreciation from Cordova District Fishermen United, in thanks from the fleet, especially for their aid in search and rescue and navigation.


By Emily Mesner for The Cordova Times

Hatcheries a vital part of Alaska’s fisheries

- By Jerry Mccune

Summer is here, and salmon are returning to Alaska's rivers. Boats stream out of our harbors while Alaskans ready their sport rods, dipnets, and subsistence nets to take part in the annual harvest. Amid this swirl of activity runs another current that is far less enjoyable — the swirl of fish politics. The current topic of discussion, misinformation, and debate is Alaska's hatchery program.

Commercial fishermen and seafood processors partner with the State of Alaska to purchase the latest sonar technology.

By Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association

The addition of state of the art sonar was made possible by a one-time collaboration between the State of Alaska and the seafood industry. Between February and March 2018, Copper River and Prince William Sound commercial gillnet salmon fishermen and their buyers agreed to assist Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the purchase of the fourth ARIS sonar unit to be installed at the Miles Lake sonar station.

Copper River salmon fishermen pay a 1% marketing tax that funds a regional seafood development association (RSDA), the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association (CR/PWSMA). The Association and its members contributed $75,000 to the purchase of the ARIS. Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU), the fisherman’s advocacy organization for the Prince William Sound area, contributed $7000 to the purchase from the gillnet division of their membership. Salmon buyers in the Copper River District also contributed significant funds to the project; Copper River Seafoods, North Pacific, Ocean Beauty, Trident Seafoods each came to the purchase with $6375 while Alaska Wild Seafood contributed $2500. In all, Copper River fishermen contributed $82,000 to the purchase that will benefit all resource management, subsistence, sport and commercial.

Get involved in CDFU

By Ezekial Brown

A piece on why fishermen should get involved with our organization and how one of our board members came to join us and has been extremely active in our mission. 

"As commercial fishermen there are many things outside of our control; weather conditions, the natural cycles of wild stocks or occasionally getting corked. The political economy of fishing and fishing rights however is one arena in which we can make our voices be heard."

"That is why I have been a member of Cordova District Fishermen United since I first bought into gillnetting seven years ago. CDFU has been advocating for commercial fishing rights and the individuals in Cordova’s community for over 80 years. This past year I joined CDFU’s board of directors in order to become more involved and, after testifying at Board of Fish in December, I feel as though a strong advocacy group for fishermen is more relevant and necessary than ever before."

Blessing of the fleet

Friends, family and fishermen gathered at the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore during the Blessing of the Fleet on May 5, hosted by Cordova District Fishermen United.

Father Tom Killeen of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Pastor Charley Pitchford of Cordova Community Baptist Church, Pastor Larry Goodale of the Little Chapel Church and Buddhist Priest Kelley Weaverling blessed the fleet of eight boats that passed by the vessel during the rainy Saturday morning.

The Cordova Times

EVOS given a May 28 deadline to buy coal rights

In December of 2017, a coalition opposed to potential strip mining of coal in the Copper River Delta Watershed sent a letter to Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott urging their leadership in expediting a link-to-injury assessment that they said is the first step needed for the trustee council to consider and commit to using some EVOS funding to acquire and protect 11,000 acres of coal in the Bering River coal field.

The coalition recognized that for the trustee council to expend EVOS settlement funds that a “link-to-injury” determination was needed for any potential habitat project relating to the species and human services injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

The link to injury in this instance is compelling and we believe that the use of EVOS consent decree funding to achieve this historic effort is fully justified and with such strong justification and rationale would be agreed to if necessary by the court the coalition said.

The letter was signed by hundreds of individuals, plus small businesses and non-profit entities, including Copper River Watershed Project, Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, Cordova District Fishermen United, Orca Adventure Lodge, individual fish harvesters, marine conservation biologist Rick Steiner of Anchorage, and others.

Legislative Update: Progress continues on operating, capital budget

After passage of Proposal 165, Senator Stevens and I, along with Cordova District Fishermen United and many other commercial fishing organizations, wrote letters protesting the action and asking the board to hold a special meeting in April to readdress the issue before the start of the season. The outcry from individual commercial fishermen was also impressive, as the board received scores of letters

Harbor Cleanup Day sees support from local children

Glass bottles, tarps, plastic buoys, paper and other trash littering Cordova’s harbor are gone, thanks to groups of volunteers who turned out on Saturday, April 14 for Harbor Cleanup Day. Together they tackled the soggy trash tucked in the rocky shores of the breakwater, underneath the ramps on the muddy harbor floor and intertwined in the bushes that border the sidewalk, bagged and disposed of it all. The event was hosted by Cordova District Fisherman United and Native Village of Eyak.

Federal Fisheries Managers Rule on Angler-Caught Halibut

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has ruled that when halibut harvested using sport guide services possessed with halibut not using sport guide services in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska that all the fish are subject to guided sport fishing limits.

The final action came during the spring meeting of the council this past week in Anchorage.The council also approved implementation of an annual registration process for transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits.

CDFU's history and Involvement

A video interview with one of CDFU's past Executive Directors sharing and overview of what we do and our history.