Last week the EPA made public their draft scientific assessment for the Bristol Bay watershed and the potential environmental impacts the Pebble Mine would have on the area. As many people expected, the assessment wasn't positive regarding the Pebble project, outlining the dangers of putting a huge open pit mine at the headwaters of two of Alaska's premier salmon-producing systems, the Iliamna-Kvichak and the Nushagak-Mulchatna watersheds. Both of these systems are central to the salmon productivity of Bristol Bay, which in turn is the largest single producer of wild salmon in the world.
The study shows that we must protect this region from the effects of the Pebble Mine if we are to protect the viability of these wild fish populations and ensure the future of commercial and recreational fisheries that are central to the region's and the state's economies.
Bristol Bay fisheries support over 12,000 jobs a year in the combined areas of commercial and sport fishing. These are long-term, sustainable areas of employment that will add value to our economy for decades to come so long as the resource is protected. On an even larger scale, this protection is important to humanity as a whole. In a time when our world population is rapidly increasing and the available sources of marine protein are being reduced due to mismanagement and overfishing, it is all the more important to protect the single largest source of wild, sustainable and well-managed fish stocks on the planet.
I am not opposed to mining, but given the location of this mine, it's size and the risks it poses to proven, non-polluting industries already in place, it should be clear that this mine is in the wrong place and should never be developed.
I applaud the EPA in providing a clear, scientific assessment of the potential dangers involved and encourage them to follow through by withholding the dredging permits for Pebble under the authority authorized them under the Clean Water Act.