Donald Trump Jr. Voices Opposition For Pebble Mine Project (Updated)

Donald Trump Jr. Photo by Gage Skidmore

Last month when we reviewed Mark Titus’ excellent film The Wild – check out a national livestream event on Aug. 6 – one of the more intriguing moments in the documentary about the fight against the Pebble Mine project was a Bristol Bay fishing trip with an interesting passenger list. Nanci Morris Lyon, owner of Bear Trail Lodge, hosted President Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric.

The prevailing thought is that the Trump administration is in favor of the mine’s permitting process, and the rather fast-tracked U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recent Environmental Impact Statement only fueled those rumors.

Here’s a snippet from our story about the film:

Nancy Morris Lyon, owner and operator of Bear Trail Lodge (907-246-2327; beartraillodge.com) on the Naknek River in King Salmon, offered a glimmer of hope during a most divisive time in the political arena.

The Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump has made it a point to try and accelerate the mine’s permitting process. Still, Morris Lyon shared a fascinating subplot in the film. She hosted Trump’s outdoors-loving sons Donald Jr. and Eric for a Bristol Bay fishing adventure.

“I really enjoyed my time with them,” Morris Lyon says in the film. “They loved their time here. And I would certainly hope that President Trump would take to heart the memories that they gleaned here … I’m going to have faith in them to know that they will get it right and allow us to make sure that what we have for an ecosystem and environment around here can maintain in its current form. Otherwise they won’t be able to share it with their grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

For his part, Titus says he appreciated Morris Lyon’s transparency when sharing her story about hosting the sons of a commander in chief who seems to be very pro-Pebble Mine. He calls the longtime lodge owner and fishing guide a dear friend and an ally in their shared passion for protecting Bristol Bay’s salmon.

In terms of how much influence Donald Jr.’s and Eric’s experience will have on their father’s policies, Titus says he isn’t holding his breath.

“But it can’t hurt anything for one heart to another heart, one human to another human who has experienced things bigger than themselves, to inject that into the current debate at a bigger political level. It’s a much better thing for those guys to have done that and relate that experience to their father than not.”

And today, Donald Jr. made his statement on whether or not Pebble is the wrong place for a gold and copper mine in the heart of perhaps the world’s last great salmon ecosystem.

It started with this tweet from David Ayers, a Republican strategist who formerly served on Vice President Mike Pence’s staff as his chief of staff.

Amid over 100 responses, 2,400 likes and 700 retweets and counting from Ayers’ tweet, was this response:

So there’s that. As most tweets from anyone named Trump these days, there were a lot of response, including both the usual support and vitriol fired.

But there was also some pushback from the pro-Pebble chorus…

Don Jr. has been criticized for many of his big game hunts in exotic locales throughout the world, but for better or worse the President’s sons are fishermen and hunters, so in this instance Don Jr.’s tweet is significant. How much remains to be seen as the election draws closer and the Pebble project’s hopes for a permit are closer than they’ve ever been to being greenlit.

Update:

Some reaction to this development:

United Tribes of Bristol Bay:

“Today’s remarks by Donald Trump Jr show just how valuable Bristol Bay is to the nation. People on all sides of the political spectrum agree on this basic truth: Bristol Bay is a national treasure that needs to be protected from threats like the Pebble Mine. It’s time for the EPA to veto this project and protect this world class fishery.” -UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley

SalmonState:

ANCHORAGE—Prominent Republicans Donald Trump Jr. and Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, today tweeted in support of Bristol Bay and against the proposed Pebble Mine.

“In addition to being two of the most influential Republicans in the country, Nick Ayers and Donald Trump Jr. are also among the hundreds of thousands of American fishermen who understand how special Bristol Bay is. As a result, their opposition to this project should come as no surprise,” said SalmonState executive director Tim Bristol. “The question now is: Will Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan also join with the 62% of Alaskans who oppose the Pebble Mine to stand up to stop this toxic project? Do they, too, understand the importance of Bristol Bay?”