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Real Voices: Stakeholders, in their own words, urge EPA to stop Pebble Mine

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted May 23, 2013 in Reviving the World's Oceans, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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This week we are running a series of ads in Washington D.C. asking the Obama administration to stop the proposed Pebble Mine.  The ads feature Alaskans from Bristol Bay — including former State Senate President Rick Halford — explaining, in their own words, why it is essential that EPA protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. Pebble Mine is a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay – home to the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery, which has recently been valued at $1.5 billion annually. Here are some highlights from these poignent vignettes:


     
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  • "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 (above left). 
  • “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 (above right). 

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  • "I am the 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 (above left).
  • “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 (above center). 
  • “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 (above right). 

EPA released a revised scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed last month that found that mining at the headwaters of Bristol Bay would destroy salmon spawning and rearing habitat, including up to 90 miles of streams; devastate 4,800 acres of wetlands; and significantly impact fish populations in streams surrounding the mine site. The agency is currently accepting public comments on its Bristol Bay assessment. 

The ads show EPA that it has overwhelming support from the region to protect Bristol Bay. According to recent polls:

We also want to show policymakers inside the Beltway the faces of people whose lives, culture, and livelihoods will be forever changed if foreign mining companies are allowed to develop Pebble Mine and consequently produce 10 billion tons of waste.

The public has until May 31 to submit comments to EPA.  Please speak out now in support of the people of Bristol Bay.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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