In Juneau this legislative session, Trout Unlimited is advocating passage of a bill and two resolutions that would increase protections for the renewable resource economies of Bristol Bay.
Representatives Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) and Alan Austerman (R-Kodiak) introduced both a bill, HB 242, and a resolution, HCR 15, requesting an in-depth, third-party review of the risks associated with large-scale hardrock mining in the Bristol Bay watershed. The Senate Resources Committee introduced a companion resolution, SCR 6, as well. Both lawmakers represent a significant percentage of Alaska's commercial fisheries permit holders. They recognize that Bristol Bay's wild salmon resources are critical to Alaska's economic and social well being and that they require additional attention and protection in light of developers' plans to turn the watershed into a large-scale mining district.
HB 242 proposes limitations on any new metallic sulfide mines in the Bristol Bay watershed and increases standards of protection for fish and wildlife. It would not affect existing mines or any other region of Alaska, except Bristol Bay, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon populations. HB 242 only focuses on large-scale metallic sulfide mining projects, such as the proposed Pebble mine. The legislation does not affect any other uses of the Bristol Bay watershed such as hunting, fishing, commercial lodges, flying, or motorized vehicle use. "In light of plans to develop a massive industrial hardrock mining operation in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, this is commonsense and much-needed legislation. We urge all Trout Unlimited members and the public to press for committee hearings and ultimately passage of the Third Party Review Resolutions and HB 242," said Lindsey Bloom, a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman and deputy director of TU's Bristol Bay campaign.