Bristol Bay fights latest round in battle over Pebble Mine

The battle cry to save Alaska’s Bristol Bay is hitting a resounding roar yet again as the world’s most prolific salmon fishery faces the renewed threat from Pebble Mine.

Shortly after a documented meeting with representatives from Pebble Limited Partnership, EPA chief Scott Pruitt withdrew the Obama-era declaration that a metals extraction mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay was too risky to move forward.

In exchange for reopening a three-year window for which Pebble to file a plan, the mining interests withdrew lawsuits filed against the federal government after the project was thwarted by the EPA evaluation.

In early October, the company revealed slides of its new concept but has yet to file for a permit to make its plan official. It promises to do so by the end of the year.

A state referendum in Alaska, meanwhile, has some potential to stop projects like Pebble by proposing a new habitat law. The proposal would subject projects that would have “significant adverse effects” on fish habitat to governmental review. Projects deemed to damage fish habitat beyond repair would be prohibited.

The ballot initiative was rejected by Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott on the grounds that it would appropriate a public resource — not allowed under the Alaska constitution. But a Superior Court judge ruled that the proposal was to regulate, not appropriate, public assets.

The state was considering an appeal, and backers still needed to gather about 32,000 signatures to get the initiative on the 2018 ballot.

Meanwhile, a coalition of businesses is rallying support behind the Bristol Bay fishery under the name Businesses for Bristol Bay. Through the coalition’s website supporters can sign a letter to President Donald Trump in support of the fishery and get updates on the effort to protect the salmon fishery.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

  • Surely_Ambivalent

    what could possibly go wrong with a mine owned by multiple foreign conglomerates which will dissolve as soon as the most of the metals are gone….. I’m normally pro business but mines are right up there with human trafficking as far as dirty business goes.

  • cogeye

    No mine here not now not ever

  • Taipei101

    First of all, that photo is ~100 miles away from the Pebble site. Shame on you for misleading your readers into assuming the Pebble mine would be near the Pacific Ocean’s massive Bristol Bay.

    Second, there are NO salmon streams within the proposed Pebble mine. It is a virtual moonscape with < 0.5% of streams within 400 sq miles.

    Third, Pebble will:
    -not use cyanide
    -have little contaminated waste rock
    -clean to code and discharge all waste water (redundancy to avoid wave if asteroid hits dam)
    -store what solid tailings remain behind a dam that is 2x thestrength needed to survive the worst possible Alaska earthquake occurring if a fault existed right at the site. (which it doesn't)

    The reality is… if Pebble's tailings dam were to fail, which is ~impossible per the very high safety margin and world class design/redundancy… only a fraction of Bristol Bay Salmon would be impacted. (<1 in 5000 fish impacted in the worst case)… with odds being power ball lottery level.

    But saying these facts… does not inspire people to rally in emotional opposition to this safe mine.

    A safe mine which will take market share back from high pollution China and employ 2,000+ Alaskans with high paying and full time jobs. The 5 tribes and locals will receive $100 million in royalty over 20 years. Local communities will receive $100s of millions in taxes. Alaska will receive $1.3 Billion.

    All that without harming any Salmon, saving countless lives in China, and helping reverse the global pollution of our Oceans by the worst polluters.

    Most Salmon fishermen are not Alaskans. The fishing season is a few months per year. Between seasons, fishermen earn little income and have to rely on welfare. Plus, the cost of living in the Bristol area is oppressive. Milk, eggs, cost multiples of the rest of the nation. That will be alleviated by the infrastructure and power that will be built to support Pebble.

    The MSM lies on behalf of the activist groups. Their goal is to convince people to oppose this mine based on a lie about a non existent threat to Salmon from a world class copper mine 100 miles inland no where near 99.5% of salmon streams.

    Pebble will be heavily regulated and monitored as well. Unlike Chinese and other mines which dump without fear of US media exposure. Only the guardian and other british outlets report on the water/air disaster that is unfolding in China ever since the Obama EPA colluded

    Articles like this are pure propaganda, hyping the risk to salm

    If you really cared about global mining pollution, you would look at the source of nearly 100%… China, India, and other developing nations who do not enforce their lax regulations and dump massive amounts of the worst toxins into our Oceans.. which circulate to Alaska.

    If you stopped using propaganda and lie to establish red tape on clean US mines… you would allow the state and federal regulators do their job without constantly trying to break the law with roadblocks that prevent a fair process.

    ~Zero salmon will be impacted, which will be proven to the EPA, which has jurisdiction to regulate US mines… not activist Salmon regressives who are actually causing enormous pollution in high pollution nations by driving US mining to those nation to meet your demand for copper.

    Oppose Pebble, as the lying elites tell you, and you not only save zero Salmon… but you also condemn millions of people and billions of fish to death in China.

    China openly mines copper and dumps so many toxins, their rivers are 80% lifeless. An estimated 750,000 Chinese die per year due to water/air pollution related illness.

    British media reports the ecological catastophy that is occurring in China. US media ignores because their agenda is to kill every well regulated US mine.

    ever since Obama's EPA illegally blocked the Pebble mine by illegally colluding with 3 outside activist groups who used false assumptions and

    Yet somehow the USmedia has you all ignoring

    The EPA, US Army Corp of Engr. and numerous Alaska agencies already exist to regulate Alaska mining.

    The new Pebble mine plan is small, uses world class environmentally safe technology, and redundant safety designs. :
    1) it can withstand twice the world's worst earthquake
    2) does not use cyanide at all
    3) does not have contaminated waste rock piles

  • Taipei101

    A well regulated redundantly safe Pebble mine will:
    -take market share back from high pollution China
    -employ ~2,000+ Alaskans with high paying full time jobs
    -provide ~$100 million royalty to the 5 tribes and locals
    -generate ~$100 million tax revenue to local counties
    -generate $1.3 billion tax revenue for Alaska
    -help the US achieve critical strategic mineral independence once more, protecting the US from the risk of China cutting supplies

    All that without threatening the Sockeye Salmon population like anti-American mining activists and the MSM would have you falsely believe.

    If these activist groups actually thought Pebble would not meet rigorous environmental standards, they would let Pebble start and fail in permitting. But they know better, so they deceive true environmentalists into supporting more ‘red tape’ to prevent N. American mining in favor of China.

    The MSM wants you to remain ignorant of the global pollution epidemic that has increase by multiples in China, etc. since 2008.

    Pebble will indirectly help save countless lives in China, etc., by reclaiming US market share, which will reduce the number of Chinese mines that are approved with little regulation and oversight.

    Say yes to Pebble following the lawful permitting process and succeeding on the merits of their world class design and practices.

    We simply must reverse the global pollution of our Oceans by the world’s worst polluters.

  • Taipei101

    Between Bristol Bay fishing seasons, many Alaska fishermen earn little to no income. Many locals have to rely on government assistance to meet the oppressive cost of living.

    Milk, eggs… everything costs multiples due to limited infrastuture.

    Pebble will greatly reduce transportation, food, and power costs by building local infrastructure and power supply… and bring high paying direct and indirect jobs. The local community will see a standard of living increase and renewed business activity.

    Pebble, who’s runoff does not impact 99.5% of Bristol Bay Salmon streams, will have a world class redundant & ‘fail safe’ design with world class regulation and monitoring.

    Despite the fact that Pebble will not impact the Bristol Salmon population… Pebble will provide fishing season insurance to Bristol fishermen. So fishermen will have a safety net to cover the cyclical low harvests.

  • Taipei101

    Chinese mines are built with few environmental controls, lax regulation, and little to no monitoring or reporting by the US MSM.

    Only ‘The Guardian’ and other British outlets actively report on the water/air disaster that is unfolding in China ever since the Obama EPA illegally colluded with 3 anti-American activist groups to illegally preempt the legal US mine permitting process.

    If you care about global mining pollution, please open your eyes and look at the source of nearly 100% of all global mining pollution… China, India, and other developing nations.

    Oppose Pebble, as the lying elites tell you, and you not only save ~zero Salmon, but you refuse jobs, royalties, taxes, infrastructure, lower cost of living, and a revitalization of the local communities.

    Per The Guardian, > 80% of Chinese rivers are toxic & lifeless. An estimated 750,000 Chinese die per year due to water/air pollution related illness.

    US media ignores this because their agenda is to kill every well regulated US mine for a variety of corrupt reasons.

    The EPA, US Army Corp of Engr. and numerous Alaska agencies already exist to regulate Alaska mining. Let them do their job.

  • Mark Hamerdinger

    I recently visited the copper mine just north of Vancouver ,Canada. It was a mine that went 150 miles into the mountain. It closed perhaps 20 or 30 years ago. They crushes the rock and tailings from the mine on site and processed it there. I saw no signs of environmental damage. This will be an open pit mine so there will be a hole in the ground. A lot of dirt and rock. Perhaps they can mine and process it responsibly.

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