Last Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleared the way for permitting a huge mine at the headwaters of two major rivers that feed into Bristol Bay, Alaska—home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and one of the most prolific Chinook salmon runs.
The Canadian-owned Pebble Limited Partnership (“Pebble”) would extract gold, copper and molybdenum—materials of extremely high value, found in everyday items such as seatbelts, cell phones and electrical wires—through a new open pit mine.
The Seattle Aquarium strongly opposes the Bristol Bay Pebble Mine. Healthy oceans, fishing and Indigenous communities and local economies depend on wild and clean rivers and waterways. These will all be harmed if the Pebble Mine is developed. The science clearly shows the dangers posed by developing the mine are too great to allow the project to proceed. And yet, the Trump Administration is determined to do so, as it continues its relentless efforts to roll back environmental projections—from the National Environmental Policy Act to the Endangered Species Act—and ignores the call for environmental justice.
In the final environmental impact statement released last week, the Corps concluded that the mine “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers” or “result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries.”
The science does not back up that finding. Mining in these rivers would cause both environmental and economic damage. The EPA’s earlier scientific assessment found that the mining activities would destroy more than 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands and generate billions of gallons of mine pollution. The surrounding marine ecosystem, $1.5 billion-dollar fishing industry, and over 14,000 jobs—including jobs held by fishermen from Washington state—that depend on these fish would be put in jeopardy.
We stand with Alaska Natives, fishing communities and others who have been opposing this mine for years. The salmon runs in Bristol Bay are essential to the health of the surrounding ecosystems and sustainable economies. We call on the EPA to follow the best available science and the principles of environmental justice and invoke a veto under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.
If you'd like to take action, consider contacting your elected official and asking them to speak out against the Pebble Mine. Here in Washington, Senator Cantwell and Representative Kilmer have already done so—so please thank them if you are their constituent! You can also post your concerns on social media and tag @EPA and @USACEHQ.