Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve heard about the Pebble Mine issue facing the Bristol Bay region in Alaska. For those rock dwellers, it’s a fairly simple issue: Pebble Mine is the common name of a mineral exploration project that is investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska that happens to also be the pristine headwaters of the world’s greatest salmon fishery. Conventional wisdom would suggest that such an operation is an outrageously bad thing, with risks for environmental disaster that far outweigh the economic and environmental value of the fishery and region as a whole.
The EPA has been studying the matter and just released their report findings. The report is science-based, without emotion or other subjective reasoning taken into consideration. Science—nothing more. And that science has declared that the Pebble Mine would devastate a pristine area that is the spawning grounds for arguably the best salmon fishery in the world.
Trout Unlimited has been a big opponent of the Pebble Mine and considers the matter their top priority. TU issued a press release noting the EPA findings on their website: Press Release can be found HERE.
Some quick points of the EPA report show that the proposed mining operations would:
- Cause the direct loss of up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams.
- Destroy up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the Bristol Bay region.
- Alter streamflows of up to 33 miles of salmon-supporting streams, likely affecting ecosystem structure and function.
- Create a transportation corridor to Cook Inlet crossing wetlands and approximately 64 streams and rivers in the Kvichak River watershed, 55 of which are known or likely to support salmon. Culvert failures, runoff, and spills of chemicals would put salmon spawning areas at risk.
- Require the collection, storage, treatment and management of extensive quantities of mine waste, leachates, and wastewater during mining and “long after mining concludes.”
What does this EPA report mean in the fight against the Pebble Mine? Well, it’s a big step toward keeping the mining operation out of Bristol Bay. Now it’s up to the Obama administration to drive a nail into the Pebble Mine coffin. We can only hope that conventional wisdom is present in Washington DC. You can help by taking action. It takes little of your time. Click HERE.
Stay tuned and visit Save Bristol Bay for more and ongoing information.
As a related point of interest, the Open Fly Podcast will feature Dwayne Meadows, Trout Unlimited’s Bristol Bay National Outreach Director, on a future podcast. The episode is set to record on February 6th, for release shortly thereafter. Needless to say this will be a very interesting show.