Here’s Where Alaska’s Congressional Candidates Stand On Pebble Mine

Last week, candidates for Alaska’s lone open U.S. House of Representatives seat in Congress – following longtime Rep. Don Young’s death in March – were asked in a survey for their opinions on multiple environmental issues within the state. The queries included their opinion on whether or not the Pebble Mine project should be constructed within the salmon-rich Bristol Bay watershed.

A Bristol Bay Action Now press release broke down the candidates’ opinion on Pebble Mine and if it’s worth the risk of a mine tailings failure and risking Bristol Bay’s valuable salmon runs. They ranged from a yes vote to a no vote while also listing those candidates who didn’t respond to the survey. Here’s the press release:

Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action Now Publishes Voter Guide Detailing Candidates Positions’ on Protecting Bristol Bay

(ALASKA) – Today, Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action (ABBA) released a voter guide detailing candidates positions’ on providing durable protections for Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine. The voter guide was compiled using responses published by Bristol Bay Action Now from a questionnaire that was distributed to all candidates in the election for Alaska’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in addition to those candidates’ public statements on the issue. 

Ballots for the special election primary, to fill the rest of Congressman Don Young’s term, must be postmarked on or before Saturday, June 11th. There are 48 candidates running in the special election, the most ever in one election in Alaska, but voters must choose one of the candidates on the ballot to narrow the field to four candidates for the special general election on August 16th. 

ABBA will run a voter guide print ad this Friday in the Alaska Dispatch News and will also launch digital ads this week directing people to the voter guide on our website. 

We have organized our voter guide into three categories, based on the candidates’ responses to the BBAN questionnaire, the public record, or their lack of response to the survey:

The following candidates are Bristol Bay champions and are “On Our Side” because they stand in opposition to Pebble Mine and have committed to supporting measures that would protect Bristol Bay from this potentially disastrous project:

  • Tim Beck (undeclared)
  • Gregg Brelsford (undeclared)*
  • Robert Brown (nonpartisan)
  • Chris Bye (L)*
  • Santa Claus (undeclared)
  • Christopher S. Constant (D)* 
  • Otto H. Florschutz III (R)
  • Al Gross (nonpartisan)*
  • Andrew Halcro (nonpartisan)
  • Ted Heintz (L)
  • Jeff Lowenfels (nonpartisan)*
  • Mike Milligan (D)
  • Mikel Melander (R)
  • J.R. Myers (L)
  • Emil Notti (D)
  • Silvio Pellegrini (undeclared)
  • Mary Peltola (D)*
  • David Thistle (undeclared)
  • Ernest Thomas (D)
  • Adam Wool (D)

The following candidates are not Bristol Bay champions and are “Not On Our Side,” because they have demonstrated either through their questionnaire responses or public record that they support the development of the Pebble Mine, are aligned with out of state, foreign mining interests, and would fail the people of Bristol Bay, fishermen, and the local economy if elected: 

  • Jay R. Armstrong (R)* 
  • Arlene Carle (nonpartisan)
  • John B. Coghill Jr. (R)
  • Thomas “Tom” R. Gibbons (R) 
  • Robert Lyons (R)*
  • Sarah Palin (R)*
  • Stephen Wright (R) 

The following candidates did not respond to the questionnaire and do not have a public record on Pebble Mine, so we ask “Whose Side Are They On?”: 

  • Dennis “Denny” W. Aguayo (nonpartisan) 
  • Brian T. Beal (undeclared)
  • Nick Begich III (R)* 
  • John T. Callahan (R) 
  • Lady Donna Dutchess (nonpartisan)*
  • Laurel A. Foster (nonpartisan)
  • Karyn Griffin (undeclared)
  • William “Bill” D. Hibler III (nonpartisan)
  • John Wayne Howe (Alaska Independence Party) 
  • David Hughes (undeclared)*
  • Don Knight (nonpartisan)
  • Anne McCabe (nonpartisan)
  • Sherry M. Mettler (undeclared)
  • Robert Ornelas (American Independent Party)*
  • Josh Revak (R)*
  • Maxwell Sumner (R)
  • Tara Sweeney (R)*
  • Richard “Clayton” Trotter (R) 
  • Bradley D. Welter (R)
  • Jason G. Williams (undeclared)
  • Jo Woodward (R) 

*Candidates who are also running in Alaska’s regular U.S. House primary election in August.

“We know that Alaskans want elected officials who will safeguard Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine. Our voter guide shows who is listening to the public and standing up for strong EPA protections and who is ignoring the decades-long fight to safeguard this special place,” said Rick Halford, Senior Advisor to Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action and former State Senate President. “Thankfully, the field of candidates for the Alaska Special Election primary is full of Bristol Bay Champions who, if elected, will fight in Congress to support EPA protections and state and federal legislation to protect our people, fishermen, economies and communities from the dangerous Pebble Mine. They stand in stark contrast to the handful of candidates in the field who have taken a position that puts Bristol Bay in danger, rejecting the demands of a large majority of Alaskans. Now, voters are equipped with the information they need to cast their ballot in the primary on June 11 and to put a Bristol Bay Champion in office this November.” 

Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action is a 527 political organization supporting elected officials who fight to protect Bristol Bay, its Indigenous Peoples, commercial fishermen, and Alaska’s economy from Pebble Mine. Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action is committed to holding accountable those politicians who refuse to stand with the lasting protections for Bristol Bay that the majority of Alaskans want.

Earlier this year, polling conducted by the research firm Moore Information Group found that there is broad public support from Alaskans for action to protect Bristol Bay. More results include: 

  • 64% of Alaskans oppose Pebble Mine, including an intense 50% of Alaskans who are strongly opposed to Pebble Mine– compared to only 12% who strongly support it;
  • 62% support a dual-track approach to protect Bristol Bay that uses the Clean Water Act and legislation;
  • 66% support action by the EPA to protect Bristol Bay;
  • 70% of Alaskans agree that it is reasonable to be pro-development and still oppose risky projects like Pebble Mine.