The Pebble Mine has the potential to permanently and irreversibly damage the salmon runs on which the bears of the Alaska Peninsula rely.
The current proposal for the Pebble Mine includes:
- An open pit mine 1 mile wide and a quarter-mile deep
- Destruction of over 3,000 acres of wetlands and more than 21 miles of salmon streams at the mine site itself, plus the destruction of at least an additional 1,000 acres of wetlands and impacts to hundreds of other salmon streams due to road and pipeline construction
- Construction of a massive tailings storage facility, treatment ponds, and associated dams and embankments that will block salmon streams and potentially inundate the streams with polluted water
- Construction of a private 83-mile long two lane road with more than 200 stream crossings and 8 large bridges
- Development of an ice-breaker barge system across Lake Iliamna with two lakeside terminals
- Development of a large private port facility on Cook Inlet near salmon streams and extending more than 4 miles into the inlet waters and known habitat for sea otters, beluga whales, humpback whales, and seals
- Construction and operation of a 230-megawatt power plant (with two additional 2mw plants at the port) approximately 15 miles upwind from Lake Clark National Park
- Construction of a 188 mile long natural gas pipeline over land and under the Cook Inlet and Iliamna Lake
- At closure of the mine after 20 years of intended operation, the proposal includes the backhaul of 1.1 billion tons of tailings waste into the pit, to be monitored and maintained in perpetuity.
The Pebble Mine has proposed alternate infrastructure development that would be similarly damaging.
For nearly two decades, Bristol Bay residents have vigorously opposed industrial mining that threatens the most prolific wild sockeye salmon fishery on the planet, 20,000 fishing jobs, $1.5 billion fish-based economy and vibrant Alaska native culture and traditions. Local opposition is backed by strong science that shows the proposed Pebble mine would have permanent and irreparable damage to hundreds of miles of streams and nearly 5,000 acres of wetlands, and risk catastrophic harm from a tailings facility that is uncertain to function as designed.
On November 25th, 2020, Americans across the country celebrated when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for the Pebble mine. However, Pebble Partnership is pursuing an appeal of this ruling, and long-term protections are still needed for the region.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the proposed Pebble Mine because it was incompatible with Clean Water Act standards and public interests. While the proposed Pebble Mine will no longer receive a federal permit, the people, fish, and fish-based resources of Bristol Bay are at risk until upfront, permanent protections are put in place.
On September 9, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency agreed to reverse the Trump Administration’s removal of protections for Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act. In 2014, the EPA determined to restrict the Pebble Mine from using the Bristol Bay watershed to dispose of mine waste. The Trump Administration reversed that decision in 2019, and the EPA has agreed to reinstate the 2014 determination.
Battles have been won, but the war rages on. Until permanent protections are in place for the Bristol Bay watershed, Pebble Mine will continue to fight to develop the mine. This is what it would look like:
If you have enjoyed my recent bear photos, please watch this video regarding the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska:
Please consider calling or writing to Gov. Dunleavy, Sen. Murkowski, and Sen. Sullivan and expressing your concern about the protection of salmon and the negative impacts of the Pebble Mine.
You can also submit written comments at this link: Take Action
If you’d like to learn more about the Pebble Mine, please visit Save Bristol Bay.