The Bristol Bay tribal governments are against Pebble Mine because they are afraid that the State officials didn’t understand the hazards of Pebble Mine They asked the EPA to block the mine using the Clean Water Act. A mine at the head waters would violate that law. Now the EPA is investigating the mine.
The EPA stated in their draft assessment the following: “Even under the best conditions, 55 to 86 miles of pristine streams would be destroyed, along with up to 2,500 acres of wetlands. “Most worrisome,” the EPA noted,” is the risk of catastrophic failure of one of the mines tailing ponds, where residue from the mill would be held. If a pond were to fail, it would release acidic water and heavy metals into spawning grounds, causing grave, irreversible damage.”
They also found that not only would the mine destroy streams and wetlands, but it would require an 86-mile long haul road and pipelines that would cross spawning grounds. Also they would need to make the nearby port into a deep-water facility; causing major changes.
When the Bristol Bay Tribes went to the federal government instead of to the State, it made Governor Sean Parnell became enraged. So, his attorney general wrote letters to the EPA, accusing it of overreach and threatening legal action. The Pebble Partnership jumped on board with the state despite the 230,000 public comments the EPA received about the draft assessment showing that 98% opposed Pebble Partnership’s plan.
The impact of such a large mine on the small communities and their rural lifestyles would be devastating; the influx of people and infrastructure needed to support the mine would change the very nature of the area forever.
Should the salmon industry be irreversibly damaged, the ripple effect would spread far and deep. Commercial fisherman would lose their jobs and need to find a new way of life. This would impact their families causing them to lose money. It would also impact trade, fish stocks in stores, exports, restaurants, the state and national economy, and visitors. The loss of fish could make the country go even further in debt, and Alaska will lose one of its biggest attractions. We will not be able to trade Sockeye salmon to other countries. People will not be able to harvest or even buy as much fish as they need. And the people that live off of the Sockeye salmon will have to break tradition or even move to find a new food source that will feed them year round, and that they can get at any time of year and their subsistence lifestyle would be gone, and thousands of years of traditions will be lost.
The future generations will not be able to witness their history, and tales of life with salmon will feel like a story that never happened. The 2.4 million pounds of fish a year would turn into 2.4 fish a day.
Beauty is not measured in copper or gold; it is measured in wildlife, tradition, family, friends, history and love. Pebble can try and mine Bristol Bay, but if enough people stand up and speak out the land and the memories will still live on for generations to come. So join me to bring down Pebble mine, and let the land and its people live like their ancestors have for thousands of years.
“Alaska still has what most of America has lost” ~ Rick Halford, former state legislative leader.