Listening to Alaskans on Pebble Mine

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Alaska Congressman Don Young went on the offensive this week with a press release dismissing opposition by “outside interests” to the Pebble Mine – a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  He took issue in particular with “radical environmental groups” whose members recently have weighed in strongly in support of EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, a comprehensive and independent scientific study of the likely devastating impacts of large-scale mining in the region.

Who is he kidding?  Pebble Mine is opposed overwhelmingly by Alaskans and promoted exclusively by a consortium of foreign mining companies, based in the UK and Canada.  These foreign mining interests are doing everything humanly possible to derail the efforts of Alaska Natives and local fishermen to enlist EPA’s assistance to prevent the certain destruction of their communities, their fisheries, and their way of life.   

Yes, environmental groups like NRDC have members – both in Alaska and the lower 48 – who have lined up strongly in support of Alaskans in opposing the Pebble Mine.  And this well documented local opposition is the heart of it.  According to recent polls:

Other surveys have also documented substantial opposition to Pebble Mine.  A state-wide poll released last year by Strategies 360 Polling and BBNC revealed that a majority of Alaskans (54%) oppose Pebble Mine, with fewer than one in three (32%) supporting it.

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Rep. Young conveniently ignores the fact that EPA initiated the Watershed Assessment at the request of Alaskans – specifically, nine-federally recognized Native tribes from the Brisol Bay region.

Who isn’t listening to whom?

Rep. Young appears willing to listen to foreign mining interests – as “outside” as you can get – over his own constituents.  

I’ve visited Bristol Bay.  I’ve seen the concern in people’s faces and heard the hours upon hours of testimony supporting EPA action and opposing the Pebble Mine.  NRDC has joined with the people of the region to get their message out: No Pebble Mine! 

Please join us and stand with the people of the region.  Ask EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to stop the Pebble Mine.  And tell foreign mining giants Anglo American and Rio Tinto that No Means No.  

Photo Credit: Robert Glenn Ketchum