Pebble Mine: It's Really About People

Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively will speak at the Alaska Resource Development Council’s annual conference this Thursday in Anchorage.  The title of his talk is “It’s Really About People.”

Really?  But the people of Bristol Bay have already spoken, time and time again, and they’ve expressed adamant opposition to Pebble Mine – a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska.  Bristol Bay is home to the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery; salmon are not only the economic but also the cultural lifeblood of the region. The behemoth open-pit mine generating 10 billion tons of mining waste would inevitably compromise this vital resource.

This is why it’s no surprise that the people of the region overwhelming oppose Pebble Mine.  Polls show that 85 percent of commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, 81 percent of the Bristol Bay Native Corp.'s native shareholders, and 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents oppose Pebble Mine.

A recent analysis of  public comments submitted to EPA regarding its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment found that 73 percent were supportive of EPA protecting Bristol Bay, including 84 percent of individual comments from within Alaska and a staggering 98 percent of individual comments from within Bristol Bay.

If the Pebble Limited Partnership has any doubts about what the people of Bristol Bay REALLY think, it should take a look at these ads featuring Alaskans from Bristol Bay explaining, in their own words, why they don’t want the Pebble Mine. Here are some highlights from these poignant vignettes:

          Faces_Ads_Rick_People.jpg  Faces_Ad_Patricia_People.jpg

  • "As the former president of the Alaska State Senate, I served as a Republican leader in Alaska for 26 years. I believe in mining. I believe that mines are an important part of Alaska’s economy….But I don’t support Pebble Mine.” Rick Halford, former president of Alaska’s State Senate.
  • “The populations of salmon I once fished along the Pacific Coast are mostly gone now, the victims of shortsighted development and habitat loss. In Bristol Bay we have a chance to get it right. Our jobs and sustainable fishing economy cannot be gambled away for the short-term profits of foreign mining investors.” Patricia Treydte, Bristol Bay fisherman.

Faces_Ad_Kimberly_People.jpgFaces_Ad_Bobby_People.jpgFaces_Ads_Verner_People.jpg

  •  Executive Director of Nunamta Aulukestai…a coalition of 10 tribal governments and 10 native village corporations. The legendary salmon runs of Bristol Bay have supported our people for thousands of years. Salmon are our source of life. Salmon represent our past and our future.” Kimberly Williams, Executive Director of Nunamta Aulukestai.
  • “Allowing giant mining corporations to take what amounts to the world's biggest pickaxe to the [Bristol Bay] region will destroy our way of life and place the future of our people and communities in doubt.” Bobby Andrew, Yup’ik elder.
  • “The Obama administration called Bristol Bay a ‘national treasure’ that is too special to drill…I call on EPA to protect this renewable resource that has been feeding my ancestors for thousands of years against foreign interests that only want short-term profits.” Verner Wilson III, commercial fishermen and Curyung Tribal Member.

I expect Mr. Shively’s talk on Thursday will focus on doomsday prophecies if Pebble Mine is not built.  But let’s call a spade a spade: this is a transparent attempt to resuscitate investment in a dying project after Anglo American, the sole financier, pulled the plug on Pebble Mine last September citing a desire to focus on projects “with the “highest value and lowest risks.”

This also ignores the fact that Pebble Mine would threaten Bristol Bay’s real treasure: a $1.5 billion per year commercial salmon fishery, as well as subsistence and sports fishing – a renewable resource.

If “It’s Really About People,” then the Pebble Limited Partnership should listen to the people of the region who have sent the company a clear message: No Pebble Mine.

Click here to make your voice heard in support of the people of Bristol Bay. 

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Senior Policy Analyst, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land and Wildlife Program

Join Us