In the last few days the EPA decided to begin proceedings to evaluate Peeble Mine's effect as it relates to the Clean Water Act. The IFFF supports their efforts and wrote a letter thanking them for their efforts. Click here to read the letter sent to the EPA.
Picture a remote stream in Alaska. Grizzlies lumber over the landscape, the buzz of mosquitoes fill your ears and the river pulses a dynamic red as thousands of Sockeye return to their natal streams to spawn. This beautifully remote place, home to the world’s most productive salmon fishery, is at the mercy of becoming a massive mining district.
The Canadian firm, Northern Dynasty Minerals, has plans to construct the Pebble Mine - a massive mining complex which could involve both an open-pit and underground mine, located in the heart of spawning salmon waters. The use of cyanide in the processing of the ore has not been ruled out. The plans propose open pits, lakes and dams of astronomical proportions to hold toxic mine waste in perpetuity, and dewatering important spawning streams for mining operations. Hundreds of miles of new roads will be built to access this now remote place. Just last week, mining giant Anglo-American partnered with Northern Dynasty to explore and develop the minerals. From this recent partnership, Anglo-American will bring billions of dollars for the exploration of minerals. Photo Copyright Ben Knight.
Ominous as the prospect of Pebble may be, it is only the first of what could be several large mines in a potential mining district spread throughout the Bristol Bay region. Should Pebble receive the necessary permits to be developed, the resulting infrastructure would make development of additional mines on adjacent state and federal lands more feasible. There are over 1,000 square miles of state lands in the region with mining claims staked, and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing that over 1 million acres of lands under its management be opened to mining.
Even if you have never been to Alaska or live thousands of miles away in the lower 48, this incredible landscape and the thriving wild salmon populations deserve protection. There are some places that should remain untouched….be safe havens for fish, bears and caribou……have clean water for salmon and local residents. More importantly, there are some business ideas that were never meant to be fulfilled. To learn more about this incredible region and its fisheries - check out the Film Equilibrium - The Last Frontier.
E-mail that Glenn Erikson, IFFF Conservation Director, wrote to the EPA on June 30, 2012:
The Federation of Fly Fishers Conservation Committee wishes to thank you for your lead on the recent public hearings regarding the draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment. We found tremendous support for EPA’s work on Bristol Bay's conservation issues.
We have been involved in this matter for some time now, and are committed to continue our involvement to the conclusion of EPA's work on Bristol Bay.
We understand Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) and several others have requested an extension of time for the comment period, even though all their comments are in and the public itself is not asked for such an extension. We therefore disagree a need exists for an extension, and urge EPA to maintain the previously announced schedule.
Therefore, we request that EPA completes its watershed assessment without further delay. The continuing uncertainty and added risk caused by the interminable process PLP allow for the proposed Pebble Mine we believe harms the public's interests. It is time to reach a conclusion to this process.
Glenn Erikson, Ph.D.
Federation of Fly Fishers Conservation Committee
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