Pebble Mine threatens Alaska livelihoods

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2005

As an Alaska resident, I oppose the proposed Pebble Mine. Contrary to the letter printed in the May 18 paper, there is something to oppose. That "something" is one of the largest gold mines in North America and the health, environmental, and economic impacts that mine will ultimately bring to the region and the state.

One issue that has not been discussed in relation to the project is the negative impacts that the mine will have on consumer perception of our wild Alaska salmon fisheries. If word gets out that Alaska is conducting large hard-rock mining operations in the headwaters of the world's largest natural red salmon run, how will consumers perceive our fish? I would be very suspicious of any product grown, harvested or gathered anywhere near a large-scale industrial mining district.

How can the state of Alaska be so open to the possibility of permitting the Pebble Mine in light of the revenue that is received annually from the Bristol Bay fisheries in the form of taxes? The salmon fishery is an annual event that could very well provide for thousands more years. This is in sharp contract to an industrial mine that could potentially operate for 30 to 60 years. The benefits do not outweigh the risks.

Has the state of Alaska asked the fishermen in the Bristol Bay region how many millions they have personally invested in their salmon harvesting operations? My family alone has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fisheries over the past decade or so. These are dollars invested by Alaska residents in the Bristol Bay fishery. Who is going to protect this investment when this mining development destroys the spawning grounds?

I don't think that the state of Alaska should proceed in the permitting of the proposed Pebble Mine, period. If the state feels compelled to investigate this development further, I would strongly encourage a detailed economic study that takes into consideration the following:

• Investment(s) in the Bristol Bay fishery by Alaskan fishermen and processors,

• The liability that future health problems may entail on the public health system due to mining activities, and

• The decrease in revenue if and when the fishery collapses due to destruction of spawning grounds by chemical pollutants.

Please protect the livelihood and health of your Alaskan residents and oppose the Pebble Mine project.

Izetta Chambers


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