After three years of attending rallies, writing letters, and flying anti-PebbleCreek flags, I was beginning to believe that nobody was listening to the hordes of people who are opposed to the development of Pebble Creek Mine at the headwaters to Bristol Bay. I am overjoyed to be wrong about this.
Last week the EPA announced it would conduct a scientific review of the proposed mine in response to the outcries of Alaska Native groups, commercial fishermen and sport fishermen who have been petitioning the organization. These groups were asking for the EPA to use its preemptive veto authority in the Clean Water Act to deny the permitting process of the Pebble Limited Partnership. Short of that, the EPA will be overseeing a “scientific assessment … to better understand how future large-scale development projects may affect water quality and Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery, an extraordinary salmon resource for the United States.” Hopefully, it is the first step to stopping Pebble Creek from further development.
I have been a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay for the past 22 years so I have a personal stake in this issue. I am against a 15-square-mile open-pit copper, gold, and molybdenum mine at the head waters of two of the largest salmon producing rivers in the world, the Kvichak and Nushagak. I am convinced that the mine cannot be built or maintained in such a way as to avoid a failure of the proposed “largest earthen dam in North America” in an area of high seismic activity and allow it to hold back the mine tailings and toxic sludge. Even the smallest leakage of this poisoned fluid would destroy the fishery and lifestyle of thousands. It just does not seem worth the gamble.
If you are inspired to help fight for the support of an EPA veto to stop the development of Pebble Creek please get involved. You can write the EPA at www.savebristolbay.org/takeaction or call Sen. Mark Begich’s Washington office at (202) 224-3004 and tell them how valuable Bristol Bay is to you.