Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Voices of the Peninsula: No more delays — finalize protections for Bristol Bay

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

By Kaitlin Vadla

Most Alaskans know the main storyline of the decadeslong Pebble Mine saga:

Geologists discover the pebble deposit in 1987;

A series of foreign companies thought it would be easy to dig a giant pit and mine the headwaters of Bristol Bay;

Alaskans said, wait, you want to leave a poisonous tailings pond FOREVER? Right next to the spawning grounds of the largest wild salmon run in the world? You know that area is known for huge earthquakes, right?;

The venerable Jay Hammond said, “The only place worse for a mine would be my living room” and Ted Stevens said, “I’m not opposed to mining, but Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.”;

Alaskans voted to protect Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve from large-scale metallic sulfide mining in a 2014 Ballot Measure;

800,000 Americans said NO to the EPA;

Alaskans said NO to the Army Corps of Engineers;

Dan Sullivan, Lisa Murkowski and Trump said NO;

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

Yes, we live in the world. Our modern society requires increasing amounts of materials that could need to be mined. However, the materials that Pebble seeks to mine, like gold, copper and molybdenum, are expensive to remove in virgin form. Our landfills are already full of such metals, which are looking less like trash and more like treasure.

So recycle your electronics full of precious metals, tell the foreign companies interested in Pebble to go mine the dump instead of baby salmon nurseries in Bristol Bay.

Ask the EPA to please, please finish the job by July 5. We don’t need an extended comment period, and we don’t need Alaskans to be stuck footing the bill to clean up a massive tailings pond failure, which is bound to happen since Pebble’s plan is to leave it there FOREVER.

We need our Environmental Protection Agency to finalize the proposed protections on Bristol Bay and the fish, jobs and Indigenous communities that depend on a clean watershed.

The United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) is leading the effort to protect Bristol Bay, and UTBB.org is a resource for more information on the current public comment period to the EPA which closes July 5.

Kaitlin Vadla is a resident of Clam Gulch.

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