Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Obama Administration Should Protect the Bristol Bay, Alaska Watershed
Press Release

RELEASE: The Obama Administration Should Protect the Bristol Bay, Alaska Watershed

Washington, D.C. — Today, an updated analysis of the Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska, was released by the Center for American Progress in response to the EPA’s final Watershed Assessment. Based upon the peer-reviewed, multiyear science findings in the assessment, CAP determines that the open-pit Pebble Mine cannot coexist with the region’s $1.5 billion salmon fishery, which supports nearly 10,000 full-time jobs.

The CAP analysis finds that the risks of permitting this kind of operation in such a remote and unspoiled region are unacceptable and calls on the Obama administration to prohibit the Pebble Mine project or any other mining operation of its scale and scope from moving forward. Alaskans and others who depend on Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery—for either commercial, recreational, or subsistence purposes—must not have their livelihoods permanently jeopardized by what comprises a comparatively short-term venture.

“We have waited for the science and the findings are clear. We can’t have this copper mine and eat our salmon too,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress and author of the analysis. “Open-pit mining in this region will jeopardize Alaska’s sustainable fishing economy and its environment. Some places are simply unsuitable for industrial development, and this portion of southwest Alaska is one of them. EPA has clear authority under the Clean Water Act to prevent this project from moving forward, and the agency should exercise that power.”

In June 2013, CAP published a report encouraging the EPA to finalize its watershed assessment and laying out the challenges and risks to the region’s ecosystem posed by a mine of this size. Based upon the initial analysis and the recent finding from the assessment, Conathan concludes that each component of the Pebble Mine project would irrevocably degrade the Bristol Bay watershed. He also calls into question the maintenance of the mine and its byproducts, which will be required in perpetuity.

Read the analysis: The Science Is In: Pebble Mine Doesn’t Belong in Bristol Bay Watershed by Michael Conathan

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To speak with an expert, contact Anne Shoup at [email protected] or 202.481.7146.