We've reported before on the proposed Pebble Mine complex, slated for a site near waterways that support the world's largest sockeye salmon runs.
For that background, see “Locals Protest Alaska Gold Mine Plans” and visit the Mining & Seafood Sustainability section of our news archive.
The December, 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine offers an update on the proposed mine and the battle over its approval, in “Alaska's Choice: Salmon or Gold.
Their article title puts the stark reality in high relief.
Over time, heavy metals from the proposed gold and copper mines could pollute the rivers where millions of sockeye salmon spawn.
And the sorry history of hard rock mining the in U.S.filled with broken promises of clean operationswarrants fear that the rivers will be contaminated, which would almost certainly devastate the sockeye runs.
Sockeye and other wild salmon are exquisitely attuned to the levels of metals in their birth rivers, and even slight changes can wreck their navigation systems, thereby condemning the fish in affected “runs” to extinction.
We urge you to read the Nat Geo account, and if inclined, view a brief video and/or sign a petition to the mining company, at NRDC.
Since the mining consortium is unlikely to be moved by anyone's plea or threats, we suggest that you also copy and send our modified version of that petition (below) to your Congresspersons. (Click here to get contact info for your Representative and Senators.)
Dear [Representative X or Senator Y],
One thing the American people have learned from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is that sometimes the worst-case scenario really happensdespite corporate and government promises to the contrary.
As Anglo American corporation continues its environmental and socioeconomic studies of the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay in Alaska, I am standing with the local communities, which are overwhelmingly opposed to their risky plans.
(The December 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine, located at ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/bristol-bay/dobb-text, offers an overview of the mine proposal and the battle over its approval, in “Alaska's Choice: Salmon or Gold.)
No matter how many assurances Anglo American executives or Alaskan authorities give, we cannot afford to gamble with the future of a critical ecosystem that supports prolific salmon runs, a vast array of wildlife, Native communities and thousands of sustainable jobs in fishing and tourism.
Anglo American and state agencies are making similar promises, stating that mine will be environmentally responsible.
But given the sad water-pollution record of hard rock mining, and the fact that the Pebble Mine will generate some 10 billion tons of waste at the very headwaters of the pristine watershed that feeds Bristol Bay, even a small chance of catastrophe is too much to roll the dice with this irreplaceable ecosystem.
Some risks are simply unacceptable.
I urge you to support the will of local residents, more than 80 percent of whom oppose the Pebble Mine (and millions of wild salmon consumers), and use your influence and vote to oppose the mine in any way you can.