If you’ve followed the recent good news around the Pebble Mine battle in Alaska, you may be tempted to assume that the fight to save Bristol Bay is a bygone era. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I wouldn’t trash your “No Pebble” stickers and trucker hats just yet.
A series of events has occurred this spring, which can only mean one thing: the Pebble Partnership is rolling up their sleeves and playing dirtier than ever. This fight is most certainly not over.
Here are the setbacks we’ve seen this spring:
- Northern Dynasty, now the sole owner of the project, continues to buy and sell land, continuously studying for additional claims that could have potential value to them. This spring they acquired 199 new mining claims around the Pebble deposit. Clearly, they’re not ready to hang up their hats.
- The Pebble Limited Partnership initiated a lawsuit against the EPA over its effort to protect Bristol Bay, and their friends at the State of Alaska promptly joined them in the suit. This lawsuit goes directly against Pebble’s promises to “listen to the community” by suing over the very process the community requested of the EPA.
- With deep D.C. lobby connections, new Pebble Limited Partnership CEO, Tom Collier, has hit the ground running. In recent statements, Collier has shown his disregard for the community, who were the ones who requested EPA action to protect its fisheries.
- Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski further undermined efforts to protect Bristol Bay by co-sponsoring a bill that would not allow the EPA to take 404(c) action until after a permit has been filed, further delaying this already slow process. (See her fielding questions about the bill and other Pebble concerns at a town hall meeting in Dillingham in late May below.)
- A similar bill has now been proposed in the US House by two Lower 48 representatives.
Hold on to your fishing hats everyone, we may be in for a wild summer.
Luckily, the coalition of sportsmen, tribes, commercial fishermen and conservationists that helped make the previous successes possible remain committed to help see this 404(c)process through. They are awaiting the EPA to release its draft determination (read more about this process here), and hope it will be soon. When it does, they will be ready to spring into action. We hope you'll join us in this next step.
In the meantime, the message to everyone who cares about the Bristol Bay fishery remains: the fight is not over. If Pebble is getting ready for a fight, so will we.
What can you do? Sign up for action emails so we’re ready when the next round of comments comes up. Tell your friends to do the same. Check back at savebristolbay.org and tu.org often this summer to take action.
These small efforts can help protect Bristol Bay’s fish and jobs. Until then, have a safe and fish-filled summer!