STS Affiliate Bindu Panikkar was recently awarded two years of funding from the National Science Foundation Science, Technology, and Society program to study "The Governance of Science and Technology in the Permitting Process of Industrial-Scale Resource Extraction: The Case of the Proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska."
Read Pannikar's abstract:
This project examines how science and technology are governed during the permitting process of large-scale industrial mines. Obtaining the permits and approvals needed to build a large mine is a process that is highly scientific, economic, political, legal and social. It is filled with debates and disputes on legal authority, rights of nature, risks and benefits, preservation of local economies, sustainable development, and environmental justice. This project will closely examine the permitting process of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska and the consequent scientific, political, legal, and ethical controversies raised by the Pebble Mine project. The integral part of these debates centers on science and the practicality of such a huge industrial undertaking in the largest salmon fishery in the world. I will evaluate, how do resource rich states such as Alaska steer the governance of science and technology? How does Alaska address its rights of development relative to rights of nature, rights of conservation for subsistence and other economic activities? What are the predominant legal disputes that have resulted from the permitting process of Pebble Mine in Alaska? How are the state policy decisions made with regards to permitting? And how do democratic processes – social, ethical and political commitments, influence science, policymaking, and technology? The lessons learned from Pebble Mine permitting process will inform the permitting process of large-scale industrial resource extraction projects in the Arctic region in general, and will offer guidance for better governance of industrial scale resource extraction projects at the state level.