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> > Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the threat of the Pebble Mine

TroutnutDecember 1st, 2007, 11:30 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2533
I haven't been following this story very closely because I've been engrossed in other things, but it is pretty important. A Canadian and a British mining company are trying to open up what might become the most environmentally dangerous mine ever, right at the source of the watersheds of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Tonight I found a really good summary of the issue on a political website, and from there I found an article in Fly Fisherman with another good overview.

Governor Palin seems to be pretty strongly pro-fishing, and she's certainly not in the corrupt cronyist Ted Stevens class of politicians, but she hasn't been willing to state unequivocal opposition to this mine yet, which is worrisome. It's baffling, too, because this is one of the few issues on which the major economic interests in Alaska, and the vast majority of Alaskan voters, and the native organizations, and the external environmentalists (including TU and FFF) are all on the same side. I sent Governor Palin an email and would suggest that anyone else with an interest in Alaskan fishing do the same through this web form:

http://gov.state.ak.us/govmail.php

And keep it polite. This seems to be a politician who's on the verge of doing the right thing and needs a little nudge, not someone who should be the target of an angry tirade. Here's one of the arguments I put in my letter

The greater good of so many should never be put at risk of such great damage for the profits of a few, however minor the risk of an accident might be.


The remaining debate seems to be about this question: if the mine can be done safely, why not do it? I believe that with an industrial project of such an unprecedented scale in such a sensitive area, there's no way a risk assessment could capture everything that might go wrong. The damage that might be done due to natural disasters, unforeseen engineering failures, terrorist sabotages, or long-term chemical effects is too severe. Even if the chance of such a disaster is 1 in 100,000, that's far too great a risk to take with such an important resource. Therefore the Governor should join most other citizens of the state in flatly opposing the mine.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
CaseyPDecember 2nd, 2007, 10:39 am
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
you and the governor sure made contacting her simple and easy! thanks for helping us find another avenue of communication.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
MartinlfDecember 2nd, 2007, 5:51 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2885
Thanks, Jason, and Casey; I sent her an email too.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
CaseyPDecember 3rd, 2007, 1:20 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
lest you fear that your e-mail to the governor will simply disappear into the ether, know that today i got 1) the usual automatic reply from the system, and 2) a real reply from the aide in charge of the issue. real in that it addressed the issue; i assume anyone getting a reply would get the same thing. still, something to let us know we're not ignored completely.
now, how can we make tourism earn more than extractive industry? we tourists sure pay a lot...
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
TroutnutDecember 3rd, 2007, 2:12 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2533
I think the monetary value of the Bristol Bay resource is worth WAY more money to Alaska than this mine; not even the politicians seem to be disputing that. It's not just tourism, either. Commercial fishing is also huge. So is subsistence use by the native villages in the region. The mine's worth a lot of money but mostly to the company. The state's cut would be small and the people's cut zero, unlike with oil (which is why this is a far more clear-cut issue than the ANWR drilling).

I think people are holding out on the hope that the mine can be put in place without putting the salmon in jeopardy. I think that's a mistake -- that the risk of unforeseen problems is too great with a project of this magnitude, and even an optimistic assessment of the predictable risks should not justify the project.

Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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