Investors Say No to Pebble Mine, Yes to Bristol Bay—Again

Firms representing over $105 billion urge EPA and Congress to permanently protect Bristol Bay

Robert Glenn Ketchum

Fifty investment firms representing more than $105 billion called on EPA and Congress to permanently protect Alaska’s invaluable Bristol Bay from the destructive Pebble Mine.

Led by Trillium Asset Management, investors released a letter urging EPA to “use its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to immediately restrict mine waste disposal in wetlands, rivers and streams within the Bristol Bay watershed.” The letter also urged Congress to “enact legislation to establish a National Fisheries Area to provide permanent federal protection against large-scale mining within the Bristol Bay watershed.”

The letter echoes the formal requests from United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB), Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay (CFBB), and Representatives Peter DeFazio and Jared Huffman asking EPA to use its Clean Water Act 404(c) authority to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of the proposed Pebble Mine. NRDC also sent a letter to EPA urging permanent protection.

Investors detailed their concerns about the threat that environmentally and socially disastrous projects like the Pebble Mine pose to responsible investment:

[I]nvestors are increasingly coming to the conclusion that the value of our portfolios is dependent in part on sustainable global economic growth. For that reason, we are aware of the need for natural resource development to support economic growth as well as the development of clean technologies, which hold the promise of more sustainable economic growth. But we are also concerned that returns could be negatively affected by corporate behavior with negative social and environmental impacts. It is in our interest for our portfolio companies to reduce these risks and to recognize the important role of environmental and social impacts. We therefore believe it is critically important for mining activity to not occur in ecologically and culturally inappropriate areas.

We are concerned that if large-scale mining, such as the Pebble Mine, occurs in the Bristol Bay watershed, that it could cast a cloud over mining projects in generaleven responsible and safe ones. This has the potential of increasing mining costs generally and may put into question appropriate mining projects. Such occurrences could be destabilizing to the global mining and fishing industries and consequently not helpful for long-term economic growth.

We agree.

The Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery is an extraordinary resource that generates $2.2 billion annually, supports 15,000 jobs, provides 57 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon, and sustains indigenous communities. Yet the Pebble Mine—a gigantic gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay—would threaten it all.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the Clean Water Act permit for the Pebble Mine in November 2020, it is critical for EPA to act now to ensure long-term protection of Bristol Bay. Proponents of the Pebble Mine are currently appealing the Corps’ denial and could always reapply for new permits at any time.

Pebble Mine remains a threat to Bristol Bay.

For that reason, investors “support protection against large-scale mining for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, and call on the U.S. EPA and Congress to use their authority…to afford permanent protection for the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery.”

According to the investor letter, such permanent protection is entirely consistent with concerns “regarding economic growth, responsible mineral development, negative externalities, and the financial importance of ecosystem services.”

For the good of the people, economy, and environment in the region and beyond, EPA and Congress must act to permanently protect Bristol Bay’s clean water and wild salmon.

Tell the EPA to veto the Pebble Mine project once and for all

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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