This week, TU President and CEO Chris Wood joined three other panelists and helped lead a discussion on the perils presented by the proposed Pebble Mine to the salmon and trout fisheries of southwest Alaska.
ConservAmerica, a “right-of-center” organization that advocates for market-based solutions to environmental challenges, hosted the discussion.
Wood led off the discussion with a powerful message, saying that the Bristol Bay salmon fishery supports 14,000 American jobs and provides a $1.5 billion annual economic shot in the arm for Alaska.
The proposed open-pit copper, gold and molybdenum mine would be constructed in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, effectively industrializing one of the wildest landscapes left on earth. The mine would put in peril the harvest of nearly half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon, as well as the world’s most productive chinook salmon fishery and an irreplaceable rainbow trout fishery that draws anglers to the region from all over the planet.
“All we have to do keep this fish factory that is Bristol Bay intact is to have the wisdom to leave that place alone,” he said. “The Pebble Mine is precisely the wrong mine in the wrong place.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of developing its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the proposed mine as part of its federal permit review process. The preliminary FEIS, released earlier this year, contained numerous shortcomings demonstrating an inadequate and rushed review. The company acknowledges, at a minimum, 105 miles of salmon streams would be destroyed by the project in phase one alone.