If you are a fly fisherman, then you've probably heard about the proposed pebble mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, at some point in the past few years. It's being called the most controversial environmental topic of our time and for good reason...
For the past 10 years or so, mining corporations Northern Dynasty and Anglo American have formed a partnership to plan and construct the largest open pit mine in the entire world due to the huge deposit of gold and copper that was found by Northern Dynasty in the early 2000's. The mine would be constructed at the headwaters of two of the eight major rivers that feed into Bristol Bay.
The mine poses many threats to the Bristol Bay watershed, including the threat of 2.5 billion tons of toxic waste that will be produced from the mine. How Pebble plans to contain that much toxic waste correctly, without letting any of it into the watershed is beyond me.
Currently, the commercial and sport fishing industries generate over 500 million dollars a year and provide a way of living for native Alaskans. Bristol Bay provides the largest runs of King and Sockeye salmon in the world and has a huge impact on commercial fishing every year. The salmon are also a key factor in the ecosystem, as animals and plants rely on them for food and nutrients. It would hurt badly to see this fishery ruined because of the greediness of these international mining corporations.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with a watershed assessment of Bristol Bay. The scientific report that was conducted for more than a year, states that even without a major accident, the mine would block miles and miles of salmon habitat.
The EPA, Under Section 404C of the Clean Water Act, is authorized, "after public hearings, and a science review process, to protect rivers and wetlands that are important to for fish spawning and wildlife habitat." It seems as though it is now up to the EPA to save the Bristol Bay area from being damaged or destroyed forever.
I have been following this controversy for several years now and have written about it quite a lot. A few weeks ago I took the initiative to donate to Save Bristol Bay, part of Trout Unlimited's Alaska program. By buying an awesome no pebble mine sticker, not only are saying screw the pebble mine, you will also be helping because the money that you pay for the sticker goes towards fighting the mine. Get yours today at http://www.savebristolbay.org/.