Pebble Mine Consortium – the Beast That Will Not Die

McNeil River

I’ve written about the Pebble Mine in a number of posts.

It had seemed that the consortium’s efforts to build an open pit mine that would have threatened Alaska’s Bristol Bay were over after the final major partner pulled out.

However, it appears they’re planning another environmental disaster.

Now the consortium has applied for a permit to mine gold, copper, and molybdenum in land 200 miles south of Anchorage – the sought permit will be in an area as close as several hundred yards from the boundary of the McNeil River State Game Reserve and Sanctuary.

If you’ve not heard of the McNeil River you’ve undoubtedly seen photos of tourists safely watching nearby large Alaskan brown bears hunting and feeding on salmon. For 51 years humans and bears have been able to develop a sense of trust in the other as humans can get very close to bears that would tower over NFL defensive tackles – in all that time no human has been killed or injured by the bears.

Now this proposal, if approved, could destroy the sanctuary as the mining and roads will destroy habitat, increase pressure for legal hunting and certainly increase poaching.

There is still time to fight this. The Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment until June 29th.

You, or I, may never visit the McNeil River sanctuary. But as Wallace Stegner noted, knowing that wild places exist – whole and untamed and apart from us, is sometimes just enough.

You can read more here.

Pebble Mine Update: Another Major Player Drops Out

No Pebble Mine

Another major mining company has dropped out of the proposed Pebble Mine project. First Quantum Minerals joins the list of Mitsubishi Corporation, Anglo American, and Rio Tinto who determined the project is a bad investment. Only one small exploration company remains: Northern Dynasty Minerals.

This is a great development that may soon bring an end to the controversial project that threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska.

You can read more here.

Save Bristol Bay…Again

Bristol Bay Salmon

Bristol Bay is the easternmost part of the Bering Sea, and is north of the Alaskan Peninsula. It is home the world’s largest salmon run, and includes all five species of Pacific salmon (King, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum). And it is again threatened by the Pebble Mine proposal.

The Pebble Mine is an exploratory project in the Bristol Bay watershed. The project is funded by the Rio Tinto Group and Mitsubishi. The ore deposit of the proposed mine is rich in copper, molybdenum, and gold, and is thought to be the second-largest deposit of its kind in the world.

Due to the size of the required operation, there has been opposition due to the downstream risks to the watershed, salmon, and other fisheries. Much of the efforts to stop the mine has been through grass-roots efforts, including members of recognized Native American tribal councils in Alaska.

Every apparent victory in stopping the mine is met by a new challenge. And now the mine has filed for one of the permits needed to proceed with mining. Public comments are now being accepted.

You can read more about the Pebble Mine project here.

You can submit comments on the latest proposal here.

“Radical” Anglers Needed Now

Hatch Magazine posted an open letter to America’s anglers and hunters earlier this month. You can read it here.

This is a call to arms, or at least awareness, of the increasing attacks on anglers and hunters by the extraction industries who take exception to any efforts to preserve lands and water. Groups such as Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Isaak Walton League, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers have all been labeled as fronts for extremist leftist groups – by naming so-called radical sponsors, while failing to note that these same groups also receive monies from radical organizations such as Orvis, Conn-Edison, and the J.R. Simplot Company.

Consider the grass-roots work to stop the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska has been met with lobbying and legislative action by some in Congress and the State of Alaska (both with their deep-pocketed owners) who have questioned the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its use of the Clean Water Act to stop the mine from moving forward.

Call me cynical but I fear in the end the mine will move forward and the salmon be damned. Profits – and executive bonuses – trump everything else.

The politics in this country of divide and conquer has been polished to a fine art. Climate change, resource preservation, and a number of other exploitable issues have been added to the pastiche of God, guns, and gays. The National Rifle Association, once an organization for hunters, is now a lobbying group for arms manufacturers and approved Republican candidates. One can only hope that Ducks Unlimited maintains its integrity in its focus on duck habitat.

The national organizations have a leading role in preserving natural areas and resources. But in the end it comes down to the individual anglers and hunters who can look past wedge issues and realize that in the end the waters and lands they value are looked upon by the extraction industries as potential commodities to be exploited.

It’s time for us to pay attention and get angry.