May 05, 2004 --- Vol. 10, No. 46May 2004

Pogo permit appeal settled, construction ramping up

A Fairbanks-based environmental group that appealed a federal water discharge permit issued to developers of the Pogo gold project in mid-March has agreed to withdraw their permit challenge, following a series of meeting with regulators on yesterday and today. The announcement of the appeal withdrawal came today during a press conference at the governor’s office in Fairbanks.

Initial meetings between the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and the Environmental Protection Agency May 4 spurred a late night meeting with others involved in the Pogo gold project permitting process. During the meetings, an agreement was hammered out for the environmental group to withdraw its appeal filed in mid-April of a water discharge permit issued by EPA in mid-March for developers of the Pogo gold project, 40 miles northeast of Delta Junction, Alaska.

In exchange, Teck-Pogo Inc., the company that secured permits and started pre-construction work at the Pogo gold deposit this spring, has agreed to provide additional monitoring of the Goodpaster River. Teck-Pogo also agreed to put a stakeholder group in place to review the project.

“This is similar to the Regional Advisory Councils I proposed for Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet after the oil spill,” Murkowski said.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which initially took the lead in trying to find a quick resolution to the permitting conflict, stepped back during talks, said Ed Fogels, DNR’s project manager for the Pogo gold project.

Brian Rogers, a Fairbanks-based businessman, served as moderator.

“The state is not in the driver’s seat on this,” Fogels said May 3. “The company and the Northern Center have been talking to each other, through a moderator.”

On May 4, the Northern Center’s board met with Bill Riley, EPA’s mining coordinator for the region 10 office, an effort to discuss technical issues raised in the appeal and to discuss the possible withdrawal of the permit challenge. “If all goes well, they will continue the meetings with all the parties,” Fogels said May 4.

Other parties involved in the permit appeal, including DNR’s Fogels and Karl Hanneman, Teck-Pogo’s manager of public and environmental affairs and special projects, met with EPA and the Northern Center late May 4 and early on May 5.

Fogels said May 5 that Teck-Pogo was starting to ramp up construction.

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