The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, has threatened the region’s waters and our Alaska Native Tribes for nearly two decades. This lingering project has created uncertainty for those who depend on Bristol Bay for their livelihoods—including thousands of Tribal members living a traditional subsistence way of life and our world-class commercial and sport fisheries, which provide 14,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in annual revenue to the American economy.
While the federal permit was denied at the end of last year, the protections for the region were successfully rolled back, meaning that mining the Pebble deposit remains open to the company. The uncertainty for those of us who depend on Bristol Bay persists.
The Pebble Mine would be the largest open pit mine in North America, but even the largest mining companies in the world know how damaging this project would be. Economists project the value of the mine at negative $3 billion, and four major mining companies have already backed out of partnerships with Pebble because the numbers just do not pencil out.
Bristol Bay’s watershed is the most ecologically and economically important remaining salmon fishery on Earth; it provides nearly half the world’s wild sockeye salmon. Destroying thousands of acres of wetlands and hundreds of miles of streams where sockeye salmon spawn would irreparably damage one of the largest wild salmon fisheries left in the world. In addition, these fish are economically and culturally important to our Native way of life in Bristol Bay. Our people and the salmon share a connection going back to time immemorial.
The past four years brought Pebble closer to becoming a reality than anyone thought possible. In spite of a flawed mine plan and serious environmental concerns, the Trump administration rolled back proposed protections for the region and rushed this project forward into the federal permitting process. Even with Pebble’s recent permit denial, the toxic project remains a threat without Clean Water Act protections in place.
The Obama-Biden administration knew how precious Bristol Bay is, and they nearly completed permanent protections for the region in 2014. During the 2020 presidential campaign, you reaffirmed your opposition to the project, stating, “It is no place for a mine. The Obama-Biden administration reached that conclusion when it ran a rigorous, science-based process in 2014, and it is still true today.” Now is the time for you to finish the job and ensure that Bristol Bay—and the people and jobs that depend on its waters—are protected for generations to come.
The Tribal people of Bristol Bay and those whose livelihoods depend on its waters have dealt with uncertainty from the threat of the Pebble Mine for far too long. Your administration has the opportunity to end that uncertainty by protecting this national treasure and securing the future the people of Bristol Bay deserve.
Robert Heyano President United Tribes of Bristol Bay StopPebbleMineNow.org
The Tribal people of Bristol Bay and those whose livelihoods depend on its waters have dealt with uncertainty from the threat of the Pebble Mine for far too long. Your administration has the opportunity to end that uncertainty by protecting this national treasure and securing the future the people of Bristol Bay deserve.”
For more on United Tribes of Bristol Bay, click here.