The two Kenai Peninsula Borough mayoral candidates who will face off in an Oct. 24th runoff were on KDLL's Kenai Conversation this week, answering a wide range of questions. One was about their attitudes toward the Pebble Mine, proposed for the Lake Iliamna area just across Cook Inlet, and if they thought it might offer economic opportunities for the Kenai Peninsula, potentially as a staging area.
Candidate Charlie Pierce said he had once toured the area.
"What I saw looked very responsible. Recognizing, too, however, that we have a huge fishery at the end of a watershed that we rely on heavily as well. I have always felt that the Pebble Mine Project should be allowed to vet their plan in front of the public and go through the permit process and present their ideas. I'm excited to hear they've revised it to perhaps a smaller opportunity. I look at it as an opportunity and I don't want to shed negative light on it from the get-go, because we haven't heard what their plan is yet," said Pierce.
When she was asked what she thought of the Pebble Mine and it's possibilities for the Kenai Peninsula, candidate Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings also supported the permitting process, but emphasized the existing value of various fisheries.
"Well, I think there are possibilities for the Kenai Peninsula in reference to that. But first, I think, to even consider that, we have to let them go through the permitting process, go through all the science. It is a long way off, if it even comes to fruition. And we do have to consider our fisheries, because it's not just your commercial fisheries, it's your personal dipnet fisheries and it's your sport fisheries which bring an incredible amount of money to this peninsula as it. So I wouldn't want to ever do anything to jeopardize that," said Farnsworth-Hutchings.
The Pebble Limited Partnership unveiled a smaller footprint for the mine earlier this month, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency held hearings on its process this week in Dillingham and Iliamna.
Farnsworth-Hutchings and Pierce will meet on the ballot Oct. 24th in a special runoff election to decide who will be the next Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor.