July 24, 2020 – Today, the Army Corps of Engineers released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) of the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold mine that threatens the largest and most productive wild salmon fishery on earth. Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon fishery supports 14,000 jobs a year and generates $1.5 billion in annual economic output.
State and federal experts have repeatedly critiqued the adequacy of the environmental review. The Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure recently called for a delay in the release of the FEIS due to the Corp’s failure to properly consult with Tribes. Last month, the Corps announced a last-minute switch of the recommended transportation route, a move that Senator Murkowski called “troubling.” The route now crosses lands owned by Bristol Bay Native Tribes and Corporations, which have notified the company that access will not be granted.
Even with these substantial flaws, the FEIS predicts irreparable impacts to Alaska’s Bristol Bay Watershed, including harm to 185 miles of rivers and streams and 3,841 acres of wetlands with 105 miles of rivers and streams and 2,232 acres of wetlands facing permanent harm. Now that the final environmental review has been publicly released, the Army Corps of Engineers is required to issue a formal decision on the proposed mine (the Record of Decision) no earlier than 30 days after the FEIS.
For more than a decade, the mine has been widely opposed by a broad coalition, including Bristol Bay Native Tribes, commercial fishermen, jewelry retail companies, restaurants, supermarkets, chefs, churches, conservation groups, hunters and anglers, tourism and recreation businesses, outfitters, and a strong majority of Alaskans.
Statement from Northwest Program Director Bonnie Gestring:
“The Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery is a phenomenal natural resource that will continue to power the economy and feed the world as long as the clean water and intact habitat of the watershed is protected from large-scale mining. The Pebble Mine must be denied to protect our nation’s greatest wild salmon fishery and all those who depend on it.
“The Pebble Mine should have been rejected years ago because it’s simply too destructive to our nation’s most valuable wild salmon fishery. We are not talking about minor impacts, but permanent harm to over a hundred miles of rivers and streams. No other mine in North America, and perhaps the world, would have such a devastating effect on clean water.
“The Trump Administration must reject this destructive mine, and stand up for the hardworking commercial fishermen and Alaska Native communities who rely on the wild salmon fishery for their lives and livelihoods.”
Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. www.earthworks.org