Last week, the IUCN World Conservation Congress voiced its opposition to the Pebble Mine, a gargantuan gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of the planet's greatest wild salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
In a virtually unanimous vote, the IUCN adopted a motion that opposes the Pebble Mine and urges the United States government to deny any permits. This is the first time the Pebble project has been gauged—and rejected—by an international body.
The World Conservation Congress has been described as the holy grail of conservation—the Olympics, Super Bowl and World Cup of the world's conservation community. That's because it carries significant global clout. Members include 217 countries and government agencies and more than 1,000 domestic and international NGOs, which rely on more than 16,000 experts around the world to address the most significant global threats to conservation.
The proposed Pebble Mine now joins that list of global threats.
To celebrate, NRDC ran this ad in Politico last week and this week.
The IUCN's rejection is a very big deal for an already beleaguered project. The Pebble Mine faces significant local, state, and national opposition—more than 65 percent of Alaskans, 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents and Native communities, and 85 percent of commercial fishermen oppose the mine. Its three largest investors—Anglo American, Rio Tinto, and Mitsubishi—have all divested from the project after investing hundreds of millions of dollars. And the United States EPA has issued a preliminary determination that would restrict the mine, based on a comprehensive, three-year scientific assessment of the project's potentially "catastrophic" impacts. Litigation brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership is temporarily preventing EPA from moving forward.
The IUCN's Bristol Bay motion—which commends EPA's scientific assessment and urges the United States to deny the Pebble project—illustrates the world's resolve to stop the mine.
The whole world is united to save Bristol Bay. It's time to stop the Pebble Mine.
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The danger is clear: mining is an inherently risky business, and Bristol Bay is too precious of a resource to risk.