From the Washington Post: “The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it would restore protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, blocking the construction of a massive and controversial gold mine near the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.
The policy shift, indicated in a court filing Thursday in response to a lawsuit filed by the mine’s opponents, deals a serious blow to a project that has been in the works for more than a decade and would have transformed southwest Alaska’s landscape.” Read the whole story.
I know you’ve heard that before, but this time, it’s for real, done in by the Clean Water Act. After watching the Trump Administration finalize plans last week “to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States,” according to the New York Times, I thought Bristol Bay would share a similar fate. Not so.
Check out the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers statement and be happy:
This administration supports the mining industry and acknowledges the benefits the industry has provided to the economy and productivity of this country, from job creation to the extraction of valuable resources, which are especially important as we recover from this pandemic. The Pebble Mine project has the potential to fulfill all of those needs; however, as currently proposed, the project could have substantial environmental impacts within the unique Bristol Bay watershed and lacks adequate compensatory mitigation.
Given these concerns, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finds under section 404 of the Clean Water Act that the project, as proposed, would likely result in significant degradation of the environment and would likely result in significant adverse effects on the aquatic system or human environment.
Pebble Mine is dangerously close to becoming a reality. Take action now
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just released its final environmental impact statement for the Pebble Mine — the last step in securing a permit for a dangerous mine in our most important salmon fishery. Take a stand for Bristol Bay and tell Congress, President Trump and the EPA to veto this project using the resources below!
Why Save Bristol Bay
Sportsmen and women from across the world dream of fishing Bristol Bay’s wild rivers, which support the world’s largest remaining wild salmon fishery, 35 fish species (including all five species of Pacific salmon) and nearly half of wild sockeye populations. Located in southwest Alaska, Bristol Bay also provides undisturbed wildlife habitat for moose, caribou, black bear and large populations of migratory waterfowl.
For generations, this unparalleled watershed has been one of North America’s renewable resources, providing dependable employment for more than 14,000 people who are currently rely on Bristol Bay’s renowned sportfishing, hunting and outdoor recreation economy. Bristol Bay’s rich natural resources are Alaska’s economic lifeblood. Moreover, this watershed is foundational to the cultural heritage of Native Alaskans.
However, a proposed copper and gold mine threatens this unique and treasured landscape. The Pebble Mine would be one of the largest gold, copper and molybdenum mines in the world. The mineral deposit being targeted sits in the heart of salmon country in the headwaters of the famed Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. One natural disaster could cause catastrophic damage to the watershed and wipe out the livelihoods of tens of thousands.
Minerals in Bristol Bay were first discovered 30 years ago by Canadian mining company Conoco, though it was not until 2007 when the Pebble Partnership was formed that a formal mining proposal in Bristol Bay was put forth. Soon thereafter, the environmental review process for development of the mine commenced. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency began reviewing the Clean Water Act 404 permit.
Through the EPA’s extensive review process, scientists found that development of the Pebble mining project would result in the following:
— direct loss of 55 to 85 miles of streams, 4 to 6.7 square miles of wetlands and, if fully developed, a potential loss of up to 114 miles of stream and 30 square miles of wild country for tailings storage facilities;
— 10.7 billion tons of mine waste, 20 times the size of all mines in Alaska (3,000 pounds of waste rock for every person on the planet);
— toxic mine waste stored behind a 740 foot high, 4-mile-long tailing dam – the largest earthen dam in the world, located upstream of the world’s largest salmon run;
— construction of a 100-mile road, 100-mile slurry pipeline and a power plant big enough to power Anchorage – all to open a 54 square mile mining district.
In 2017, the EPA waffled on whether to act on this science by proceeding with the Clean Water Act determination but instead vowed to carry on with the review process.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to move ahead by releasing its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and most recently, its final EIS for the proposed Pebble Mine. The FEIS release starts a 30-day wait period before the decision to issue or deny a permit for the Pebble mining project is made. Public comments are no longer being accepted during this process, and we could expect a decision as early as August.
This environmental analysis evaluated risks, impacts and benefits. According to the FEIS, phase one of the proposed copper and gold mine project would undermine Alaska’s thriving salmon fishery and damage 4,614 of acres of wetlands and 191 miles of streams. Many more miles of streams and thousands of additional acres of wetlands would be permanently ruined, resulting in irreversible and damaging impacts to fisheries, the ecosystem and the local outdoor recreation economy.
How You Can Help
Join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in encouraging your lawmakers, President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler to conserve Bristol Bay, deny the Pebble Mine permit and stand with their constituents in protecting our economies and ensuring the future of our hunting and fishing traditions. Click here to send your message of support (at bottom left of page.)
Despite over a decade of opposition, the agency reviewing the permit application for the massive proposed Pebble mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska recently moved the mega-project one step closer to reality.
The rivers and streams of Bristol Bay are known by anglers around the globe as some of the greatest, and among the last exceptionally productive wild salmon streams remaining on earth. The massive mine proposal slated for the heart of the spawning grounds of the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers has been widely opposed for the past 15 years by local Alaska Native Tribes, Alaskans, commercial and sport fishermen, and concerned citizens worldwide. For anglers, the mine is a clear and direct threat to the thriving and irreplaceable salmon-based economy of the region.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released by the Army Corps of Engineers is the most important document of the permitting process. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated DEIS just released is extremely short and fails to account for all the mine’s potential impacts, leaving Bristol Bay in immediate jeopardy. Please comment on this today.
The process and flawed assessment leaves Alaskans filled with skepticism in the wake of recent environmental disasters associated with largescale tailings pond failures and as the DEIS findings include permanent destruction of more than 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands. What’s more, the current permit application considers only Pebble’s phase one plan. Risks posed by the entire project have yet to be fully evaluated, though the mine is closer than ever to reality.
Now is the time for anglers to weigh in: The public comment period runs from March 1st – May 30
Decision makers in D.C. are watching. They need to see that opposition to the Pebble mine is strong and growing. Please join us in the fight to preserve world-class fishing opportunity, cultural tradition, American jobs, food, and save Bristol Bay.
Learn more about the contents of the DEIS, the latest news, and how you can support the fight to stop the proposed Pebble mine at SaveBristolBay.org/StopPebble2019.
We strongly urge you, and your fishing buddies, to review the impacts of the Pebble mine and submit a comment of your own. Opposition to the Pebble mine is strong and growing – please join us in the fight to preserve cultural tradition, existing American jobs, food, and save Bristol Bay.
It’s no time for complacency when it comes to Pebble Mine. Please tell the agency reviewing Pebble’s most important permit to follow the science and stop the mine. Please take action today.