Bristol Bay Tribes Target Pebble Mine in New Ad

Full-page Ad in Politico Urges President Biden to Permanently Protect Bristol Bay

United Tribes of Bristol Bay ran a full-page ad today in Politico urging President Biden to stop the Pebble Mine and protect Bristol Bay.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a consortium of 15 federally recognized Tribes that represent more than 80% of the region’s population. The ad states:

The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, has threatened the region’s waters and our Alaska Native Tribes for nearly two decades. This lingering project has created uncertainty for those who depend on Bristol Bay for their livelihoods—including thousands of Tribal members living a traditional subsistence way of life and our world-class commercial and sport fisheries which provide 14,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in annual revenue to the American economy.

When the federal permit was denied at the end of last year, the protections for the region were successfully rolled back, meaning that mining the Pebble deposit remains open to the company. The uncertainty for those of us who depend on Bristol Bay persists.

The ad’s message is unequivocable: Use existing authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to permanently protect the Bristol Bay watershed from the threat of mining.

The Obama-Biden Administration sought to do just that in 2014, proposing restrictions to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. But those restrictions were reversed and withdrawn in 2019 under the Trump Administration.

As a result, Bristol Bay remains unprotected today.

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the Pebble Limited Partnership’s Clean Water Act permit request last year, the Pebble Mine continues to hang like the sword of Damocles over the Bristol Bay region. Pebble is currently appealing the Corps’ denial and has pledged to fight tooth and nail in court to overturn the Corps’ decision. If those appeals fail, Pebble could always modify and re-file its permit application. There is also a very real risk of large-scale mining in the region by other companies in the future.

Now is the time for the Biden Administration to act. The ad urges President Biden to fulfill his campaign promise and protect Bristol Bay:

During your 2020 presidential campaign, you reaffirmed your opposition to the project, stating, “It is no place for a mine. The Obama-Biden administration reached that conclusion when it ran a rigorous, science-based process in 2014, and it is still true today.” Now is the time for you to finish the job and ensure that Bristol Bay—and the people and jobs that depend on its waters—are protected for generations to come.

NRDC fully supports the Tribes’ request. As the ad concludes:

The Tribal people of Bristol Bay and those whose livelihoods depend on its waters have dealt with uncertainty from the threat of the Pebble Mine for far too long. Your administration has the opportunity to end that uncertainty by protecting this national treasure and securing the future the people of Bristol Bay deserve.

For the good of the people, economy, and environment in the region and beyond, we urge swift action.

We urge the Biden Administration to prioritize preserving the Tribes, communities, and jobs that the Bristol Bay fishery supports over furthering the interests of a foreign mining company.

Now is the time to bring long-awaited certainty to those whose lives and livelihoods depend on Bristol Bay’s clean water and salmon.

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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