U.S. Army Corps won’t hear new public input on IPOP
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it won’t open a new public comment period in its reappraisal of IPOP’s permit application.
IPOP’s initial permit application for a controversial project to dredge for gold in Bonanza Channel and Safety Sound was denied by the Corps’ Alaska District in September 2022.
IPOP appealed that decision.
Last month, the Corps’ Pacific Ocean Division decided that additional review of the application was warranted. In a move that stunned many residents of the region, the Corps threw out the original denial.
In its various lawsuits and dealings with the Corps, IPOP has expressed frustration with the permitting process and Alaska Native interests.
The company has repeatedly alleged that Alaska District has shown “bias” in favor of Alaska Native tribes and corporations.
In a memo signed on Aug. 18, Brigadier General Kirk Gibbs, the division’s commander, expressed concern about “the appearance of bias,” though he could not decide the merit of such claims.
The Corps did not issue a press release about the news of reversing its own decision to deny IPOP’s application. The Nugget learned of the fact through a tip and requested the associated documents.
The Corps’ Pacific Ocean Division “has no plans to issue a press release regarding its appeal decision,” said Susan Y. Lee, a spokesperson for the division.
There are also no plans to accept new public comments.
“The Corps will not be issuing a supplemental or revised public notice unless there is a change in IPOP, LLC’s permit application data that would affect the public’s review of the proposal,” Lee said. “The Division Engineer will consider all comments received in response to the previous public notices before making a decision.”
The next step for the process, she added, is for the regulatory project manager to review the administrative record.
“At this time, we do not have a timeline for the permit decision,” Lee said.