62% of Alaskans Oppose the Pebble Mine, New Poll Shows

“Stop Pebble Mine” Campaign Also Poised to Launch Paid Advertising This Week

Robert Glenn Ketchum

Most Alaskans do not support the Pebble Mine, as a new poll released by the Bristol Bay Defense Fund shows. The survey’s findings are one more piece of bad news for Pebble and its embattled owner Northern Dynasty Minerals.

A strong majority—62 percent—of Alaska voters oppose the Pebble Mine, according to the poll by David Binder Research. After hearing specific details about the project, respondents’ opposition increased 8 points and support dropped 7 points. The intensity gap is also glaring: Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents “strongly oppose” the mine compared to only 15 percent who “strongly support” it.

In short, a strong majority of Alaskans do not believe the benefits outweigh the risks of the proposed Pebble Mine—a giant gold, copper, and molybdenum mine that would sit at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s legendary salmon-producing rivers.

Salmon are the economic and cultural linchpin of Bristol Bay, generating $1.5-billion annually, supporting 14,000 jobs, and providing the lifeblood of subsistence culture and a powerful economic engine for the entire region.

Yet the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to release later this month a fatally flawed Environmental Impact Statement that vastly underestimates the environmental and social impacts of the Pebble Mine.

The Army Corps has conducted a hasty and deficient review of the proposed Pebble Mine under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Clean Water Act. Throughout the entire permitting process, the Army Corps has cut legal corners, relied on incomplete or outmoded science, failed to require any economic feasibility analysis, and ignored the voices of Bristol Bay’s Indigenous peoples and Tribes who adamantly oppose the mine. The agency’s lack of regulatory rigor resulted in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that a former Rio Tinto mining expert panned as “fatally flawed,” that one member of Congress called a “sham” and an “abomination,” and that prompted federal and state agencies to draft lengthy comments registering their serious concerns.

At this critical moment NRDC has partnered with United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Businesses for Bristol Bay, SalmonState, Wild Salmon Center and others to form the Bristol Bay Defense Fund. Our Stop Pebble Mine campaign will elevate the voices of communities and businesses that oppose the project. The campaign will also run a series of paid advertisements, including digital, print, television ads throughout the summer.

The recent poll is just the latest confirmation of the overwhelming opposition to the Pebble Mine. A poll commissioned in 2018 by United Tribes of Bristol Bay revealed that an overwhelming majority (80 percent) of Bristol Bay residents think that the Pebble Mine would pose a serious threat to fishing in Bristol Bay. A vast majority (77 percent) oppose the Pebble Mine. And a significant majority (70 percent) believe that the Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay salmon fishery cannot safely co-exist—debunking one of Northern Dynasty’s favorite talking points.

These polls leave no room for doubt.

The overwhelming majority of Bristol Bay residents—together with a strong majority of Alaskans—do not want the Pebble Mine. They do not want a mine that, if fully developed, would dump up to 10 billion tons of mining waste at the headwaters of the greatest wild salmon fishery in the world. They do not want a mine that would threaten the Bristol Bay’s salmon—the economic and cultural backbone of the region that supports American jobs, a multi-billion sustainable commercial fishing industry, and a subsistence lifestyle that has flourished for millennia.  

Four major global mining companies—Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Mitsubishi, and First Quantum Minerals—have all abandoned the Pebble Mine. 

The time is NOW to finish the job once and for all. It is time NOW to STOP THE PEBBLE MINE.

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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