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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Anti-Pebble campaign turns in 60,000-plus signatures

The sponsors of two Alaska Clean Water initiatives turned over booklets containing more than 60,000 signatures to state officials on Monday to try to get their anti-Pebble campaign on the statewide election ballot this year.

The initiatives are an attempt to block water pollution discharges from large, metal-producing mines -- in particular, the giant Pebble copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska, which lies in the headwaters of two of the rivers that feed Bristol Bay's world-class fisheries.

The first -- and strictest -- version of the Clean Water initiative would prevent large metal mines from discharging any quantity of toxic pollutants into salmon streams or drinking water supplies. It also would ban mines from storing or disposing of any waste -- such as tailings -- that could generate toxic compounds.

This initiative would make it difficult or impossible to grant state approval to any future mine -- like Pebble -- or to an existing mine when it needs to get new permits, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

The second Clean Water initiative only would prohibit discharges in harmful amounts and wouldn't differ much from current laws, according to the DNR.

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