Pebble Mine and the Bristol Bay Fishery
If developed, Pebble Mine would be devastating for the region’s recreational, subsistence and commercial fishing industries, which are collectively worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
The fight to safeguard Bristol Bay from an immense mineral mining operation is not over. Pebble Limited Partnership (LP), the company interested in developing the mine, is fighting to construct a massive gold, copper, and molybdenum mine in Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay, threatening the region’s illustrious and lucrative salmon fishery.
One of four claims filed by Pebble LP was permitted to proceed by a federal judge on June 4, 2015. The aspect of the case that advanced was related to the EPA’s federal advisory committee that Pebble LP argues was comprised of biased opinions and failed to conduct transparent, public meetings. Thus far, three of Pebble LP’s other claims have been dismissed by the US District Court. The group has not yet filed its mining permits and the EPA remains barred from pursuing any work activity related to the Pebble mine.
KeepAmericaFishing thanks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its efforts to protect Bristol Bay from the potential Pebble Mine. Last year, the agency released a proposal that outlined its intent to limit the ability for mining activities to take place within the Bristol Bay area of Alaska. In all, the EPA received over 574,000 comments. The EPA announced in January 2015 that it would comply with an injunction imposed in November 2014 by a federal court judge and halt all activity related to the Pebble mine, including attempts to prevent mine development by placing water restrictions in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Public opposition to the mine remains strong. An Alaska ballot measure informally called “Bristol Bay Forever” was approved in the 2014 November elections, placing another hurdle in the way of anyone seeking to develop a large mine. The measure gave state legislators power to prohibit mining projects in Bristol Bay if activities are determined to be harmful to wild salmon within the fisheries reserve.
If allowed, mining operations in Pebble would result in:
– A pit mine as deep as the Grand Canyon that’s 7,000 square miles up to ¾ of a mile deep
– Mine waste that could fill a national football stadium 3,900 times
– A mine footprint the size of Manhattan
– Loss of streams that support coho, Chinook, sockeye, chum and pink salmon
– Loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds, which all support salmon
– Alterations of streamflow: More than 20% of daily streamflow that directly affects salmon would be altered