The potential Pebble Mine project is known to many, especially after national coverage of the project significantly increased this past year. As a brief overview, Pebble Limited Partnership is nearing final approval on an open pit mine project in Bristol Bay’s headwaters. Bristol Bay represents one of the world’s premiere runs of wild-sockeye salmon. Yet, the Pebble Mine operation would immediately harm and, potentially, impart generations-lasting effects on one of the few remaining idyllic salmon runs. Even without a catastrophic accident that could release millions of tons of acid mine drainage into Bristol Bay’s headwaters, Pebble expects physical loss of streams, fish passage blockages, and significant negative effects on the region’s hydrology.
The project’s public comment period has not been adequate, especially given the size of the project and level of destruction to this wild region that a single accident could produce. Originally, the comment period was set to end in May, but due to powerful criticism of the rushed process, the comment period has been extended through June–it will now end on July 1, 2019. While this is a victory for Bristol Bay’s thousands of stakeholders and anyone who cares about prolific populations of wild fish, commenting and spreading awareness is the most important thing people from all around the country can do.
Thankfully, the national spotlight is now producing greater awareness and activism on behalf of Bristol Bay. In a New York Times opinion article, the authors–Paul Greenberg, Mark Kurlansky, Carl Safina and John Waldman–wrote: “the project was effectively dead at the end of the Obama administration. But thanks to a reversal engineered by Scott Pruitt, the disgraced former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the permitting process is rushing forward on a scaled-back proposal that would still be disastrous.” These authors have all written books about salmon and fish migrations; so, they are aware of the societal value that salmon represent and the threat that Pebble Mine poses. This is not a partisan issue either: Alaska’s former Senator, Ted Stevens, (who was a Republican) said: “I am not opposed to mining, but it [Pebble Mine] is the wrong mine for the wrong place.”
Additionally, a growing coalition of businesses are speaking out in opposition of Pebble Mine. With Patagonia, Whole Foods, and nearly 200 other businesses spreading awareness, Bristol Bay gained powerful and far-reaching advocate. That isn’t even mentioning the amazing work that Trout Unlimited, Save Bristol Bay, and others are doing. The level of awareness that has been increased by all these groups, stakeholders, and motivated individuals has been an amazing sight to see.
However, the pressure needs to continue, as we enter the final push to save and preserve Bristol Bay. Please, take a moment out of your day and submit a comment, to voice your opposition to Pebble Mine. For the sake of future anglers and outdoorsmen, help preserve this national treasure and ensure that generations to come can enjoy wild and healthy salmon runs. To comment follow this link–every comment makes a difference!
This article was written by Conservation Editor, Will Poston.