An overwhelming majority who attended hearings in Dillingham and Iliamna requested proposed 2014 protections for Bristol Bay be preserved.
ILIAMNA, AK — Pebble Mine is still too risky for Bristol Bay.
This week Alaskans reiterated their opposition to the mine during the course of two hearings hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Dillingham and Iliamna. According to an initial count by Trout Unlimited and United Tribes of Bristol Bay, more than 280 Alaskans attended the hearings. About 120 people testified, 103 of whom spoke in opposition to the EPA’s plan to withdraw the 2014 proposed protections.
“Our way of life has been threatened by Pebble for over a decade,” said Alannah Hurley, director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. “It’s clear our people are just as opposed to large-scale mines in Bristol Bay now as they have ever been. We need leadership and action. Our waters, salmon and way of life should be protected from risky proposals like the Pebble Mine immediately. We want to defend our way of life. We want to be in control of our own future, not at the mercy of a mining company that only has profit in mind.”
Nanci Morris Lyon, owner of Bear Trail Lodge and long-time resident of King Salmon had this message to deliver at the hearing, “We need careful, focused attention given to the years of documented scientific study done by numerous individuals who are unbiased and have no monetary interest in Bristol Bay. It proved my fears correct and the mine should not be allowed to move forward.”
Everett Thompson, a representative of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay told the EPA that, “The last great salmon fishery should not be put at risk by non-renewable, short term development.”
The meetings were organized to receive input on the agency’s plan to withdraw proposed protections for Bristol Bay from large-scale mining within the region. The plan to withdraw protections was purely political, and came only hours after the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, met with executives of Northern Dynasty Minerals, the sole owner of the Pebble Partnership. The announcement came despite the fact that roughly 99 percent of the over 670,000 comments received concerning the measure in 2014 were supportive.
“The decision to begin withdrawing safeguards for Bristol Bay was driven by a mining company that has misled Alaskans for years,” said Nelli Williams director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program. “This withdrawal is a direct attack on Alaska’s families, businesses and jobs – we cannot let the Pebble Partnership dictate our fate. Local communities, businesses and hunters and anglers who depend on Bristol Bay deserve concrete safeguards for salmon and clean water. We urge our state leaders to stand up for what is best for Bristol Bay and a majority of Alaskans and not continue to let the fox guard the hen house.”
Comments coming in from the region and Alaska are on track to exceed submissions to the EPA that were sent in 2014, demonstrating a continuation of strong local support for protections for the waters of the region.
The federal comment period continues through October 17, 2017. For more information on the proposal or to submit a comment go to https://www.epa.gov/bristolbay.
United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a tribal consortium working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiq way of life and the Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale mining. Learn more about our work at www.utbb.org
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org and savebristolbay.org.
Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay is a coalition of over 100 fishing organizations and thousands of individual fishermen working to protect the 14,000 jobs, more than $500 million in annual income, and over half the world’s wild sockeye salmon provided by Bristol Bay’s 125 year sustainable fishery. Learn more at fishermenforbristolbay.org.