Two New Campaigns Launched To Push For Bristol Bay Protections

The following is courtesy of Bristol Bay Action Now:

Advocates for Bristol Bay Announce New Efforts to Support Champions and Advance Dual Track Effort to Protect the Region

As Fresh Polling Shows an Overwhelming Majority in Alaska Welcome EPA Action, New Ad Campaign Supports Dual Track Protections 

ALASKA – Two new campaigns launched today in an effort to finally secure durable protections for Bristol Bay in the decades-long fight against the proposed Pebble Mine – one to advocate for the dual track approach needed to protect the region and one to support champions of Bristol Bay action.

The Bristol Bay Action Now campaign is a new 501(c4) initiative, working to secure durable protections for Bristol Bay and its people through a dual track approach – specifically calling for leaders to finalize the EPA Clean Water Act “Veto” authority to stop Pebble Mine, and to establish enduring protections and investments in a sustainable future for the region through legislation. The campaign supports the leadership of Indigenous people in Bristol Bay who have called on EPA to finish the job this summer, and for the passage of federal legislation this calendar year. Long-time Bristol Bay leaders Robin Samuelsen, AlexAnna Salmon, Katherine Carscallen, and Brian Kraft will serve as lead advisors for the initiative.

In conjunction with the launch, Bristol Bay Action Now released new polling from the Alaska-based research firm Moore Information Group that shows broad public support from Alaskans for EPA action in Bristol Bay. Findings are available in this memo, and include:

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

“A very large majority of Alaskan voters are opposed to building the Pebble Mine, and they feel very strongly about it,” said Hans Kaiser, partner with the Moore Information Group as part of a poll memo released today with these results. “There is a lot of intensity on this question and the vast majority of it is in opposition to the mine. In fact, voters in Alaska appear more than willing to consider any solution, including using the EPA’s Clean Water Act or an Act of Congress, to end the threat to Alaska from the Pebble Mine. Getting behind the Pebble Mine today is not a popular position in the state and that is not likely to change.”

In a joint effort with the Bristol Bay Defense Fund coalition, Bristol Bay Action Now also released a new television ad as the first volley in a six-figure ad buy highlighting the broad support for the dual track approach to protect Bristol Bay. View the ad here.

“For too long, our Tribes have lived with the threat of the Pebble Mine devastating our sacred way of life. We have been strong stewards of Bristol Bay since time immemorial and we need action now from our leaders to end the threat of mines like Pebble,” said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. “Together we must protect our region and fishery for generations to come.” 

In addition, Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action formally launched today. Established as a 527 political organization, Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action will partner with Bristol Bay Action Now, by 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 also committed to holding accountable those politicians who refuse to stand with the lasting protections for Bristol Bay that the majority of Alaskans want. 

Collectively, these organizations are planning aggressive campaigns to secure lasting Bristol Bay protections and defend champions, and will have campaign budgets well in excess of seven figures.

“Alaskans want our elected leaders to protect Bristol Bay now,”said Rick Halford, Senior Advisor to Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action and former State Senate President. “This organization is about supporting those champions who are fighting to end the threat of Pebble Mine and holding those people accountable who are ignoring Alaskans and refusing to do the right thing for the region, Indigenous Peoples, fishermen, and our economy.”  

Here’s the Bristol Bay Defense Fund’s press release:

(Washington, DC/Alaska) – Today, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund launched a new $100k digital, print, and television ad campaign that urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to veto Pebble Mine and finish the job of protecting Bristol Bay. The ads will run in Washington, DC and Alaska, with a large presence in Juneau, Alaska. The ads state “EPA has the power to provide immediate protections for this critical watershed and kill Pebble Mine for good by this summer’s fishing season” and “Two-thirds of Alaskans agree it’s time to end the threat of Pebble Mine through EPA’s Clean Water Act authority or an Act of Congress–whatever it takes to get it done.”    

These new ads build on a nearly year-long effort to encourage the Biden administration and EPA to finalize 404(c) Clean Water Act protections and “finish the job” to protect Bristol Bay before the start of the next fishing season. Recently, the EPA indicated it will issue a revised Clean Water Act 404(c) Proposed Determination (PD) for Alaska’s watershed by May 31, 2022. This would be a significant step backward and threatens to further delay the timeline requested by Tribes, fishermen, and Alaskan communities. Both President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan have publicly committed to protecting Bristol Bay, and they have the power to stop Pebble Mine by summer. 

“The Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency must “finish the job” and put in place durable protections for Bristol Bay. We have asked EPA to finish the Clean Water Act 404(c) process by the summer on numerous occasions, but the agency could further delay the process, ignoring the requests of Tribes, fishermen, and Alaskan communities. Our salmon runs sustain our way of life and feed Americans from coast to coast while contributing billions to the American economy. EPA must use its power under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay and end Pebble Mine for good,” said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay.

Additional Background: 

Bristol Bay and its pristine landscape are home to some of America’s most important and valuable waters, including record-shattering salmon runs that provide nearly 60 percent of the world’s wild sockeye salmon. The Bay and its salmon play a central role in the cultural and spiritual identity of tribes in the area and employ tens of thousands of people in commercial fishing, hunting and sportfishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism. 

For decades, Tribes, fishermen, and the people of Bristol Bay have lived with the cloud of Pebble Mine over their head. Pebble Mine is a proposed massive open pit mine at the headwaters of the Bay that would produce up to 10.2 billion tons of toxic waste that would contaminate the site forever, threatening to destroy the entire watershed, the salmon, and the Indigenous communities that have called this area home for millennia.