The Bristol Bay way = no Pebble mine

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its next steps and deadlines regarding the Clean Water Act 404(c) process that could lead to protections for the Bristol Bay way and the salmon at the center of it.

The EPA could finalize a science-based determination for the Bristol Bay region, safeguarding its salmon runs from large-scale industrial mining that threatens a thriving watershed and nourishes local and global communities.

Back in 2014, the EPA released a proposed determination that recommended strong restrictions on large-scale mining to protect Bristol Bay, but the Trump administration withdrew it in August 2019.

Last month, an Alaska District Court decision remanded and vacated that 2019 withdrawal, triggering the continuation of the EPA process.

EPA set the deadline for its next step as May 31, 2022.

You can take action right now to urge the agency to finalize protections for good.

It’s time to get it done

Imagine Bristol Bay’s communities going into the 2022 salmon season without the Pebble mine breathing its massive, expansive and toxic mining plan down their necks?

Imagine salmon communities focusing on fish, food caches, and social and cultural health rather than having to react to the latest Pebble mine schemes? Alaskans have endured nearly two decades of nonstop pressure from Outside mining interests that threaten the health of Bristol Bay streams, fish and all interconnected flora and fauna.

It’s time to let Bristol Bay do what it does best—nourish salmon and people. It’s time to say no Pebble mine once and for all.

The salmon ways of life at the center

Earlier this month, we joined over 50 other organizations in signing a letter to urge the EPA to finish the job it started in 2014 and protect Bristol Bay. A coalition that includes tribes, commercial fishing operators, businesses, and environmental groups also began a media campaign making the same urgent ask.

Salmon strips drying in New Stuyahok, Bristol Bay. Photo by Erin McKittrick.

Alaskans have again and again spoken loud and clear about their connection to salmon and all it provides their communities, whether as food and a livelihood or as the source of purpose, culture, or engagement with the land and water.

It’s essential that Alaskans continue to tell EPA to take heed of its own science, the traditional knowledge of Bristol Bay communities, and the input of the majority of Alaskans by protecting Bristol Bay.

Pebble needs to go

Like so many Alaskans and Alaska groups, Trustees got involved in the fight to stop the Pebble mine early and filed a critical lawsuit in July 2009.

This landmark constitutional lawsuit challenged the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for issuing exploration and water use permits for the proposed Pebble Mine without public notice or an evaluation of the public interest.

Though we lost the case in the lower court, we eventually won in the Alaska Supreme Court in 2015.  Along the way, Pebble and the state of Alaska attempted to stifle citizen involvement in administrative processes and even in court.

Pebble’s attempt to silence opposition, buy support

No Pebble mine sign with bike and truck Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay people have said no to Pebble for a long, long time. Photo by Donald Blank

Pebble has consistently used unseemly tactics to get its way. It has tried to silence those opposing its efforts by trying to subpoena scientists and others in an attempt to get 11 years of private communications. Here, Pebble lost in court again.

All the while, it has tried to buy support through profit-sharing schemes. It has asked Bristol Bay leaders who oppose the mine to join an advisory panel (with pay).  It later cut a backroom deal with Trump’s EPA to withdraw the agency’s proposed determination.

The list of unsavory attempts to trounce the interests and voices of Alaskans goes on and on. It’s time to put a stop to the bullying and exploitation. It’s time to allow Bristol Bay to get back to the Bristol Bay way.

It’s time to tell EPA to veto Pebble and protect Bristol Bay forever.