Bristol Bay has it all – breathtaking natural beauty, an abundance of wildlife and some of the world’s largest populations of salmon.
But a recent move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could put the entire bay in serious jeopardy.
Every year, tens of millions of wild salmon return to Bristol Bay, supporting 14,000 American jobs, over $90 million in recreation and tourism revenue and an incredible variety of wildlife ranging from Pacific walrus to belugas to brown bears.
But a Canadian company wants to build a gold and copper mine in this sensitive ecosystem, and the potentially disastrous impacts for wildlife are crystal clear. The proposed Pebble Mine would be up to two miles wide and:
- Require massive earthen dams to keep toxic waste products from leaching into the area’s surface and groundwater;
- Require the construction of a new fossil fuel plant and a 100-mile road straight across valuable wilderness habitat;
- Divert nearly 35 billion gallons of water a year from rivers that are crucial to salmon populations; and
- Expose endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales to an increased risk of ship strikes as massive vessels move in an out of lower Cook Inlet to service the mine.
Over 1.5 million Americans supported a 2014 EPA decision to protect Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act – a decision that was based on the outcome of dozens of community meetings and detailed scientific study.
But on July 14th, the EPA changed its mind and is now seeking to remove this hard-won protection, marking a HUGE shift in the agency’s approach to protecting the nation’s clean waters and the species found in them.
This is just one more example of how the anti-wildlife Trump administration is turning a blind eye to the health and welfare of America’s wildlife and wild places.
The Pebble Mine has been opposed by Alaska Native tribes, fisherman, local business owners, sportsmen and conservationists alike. Protections for Bristol Bay should NOT be overturned.