This is an aerial view of a work camp in the area of the proposed Pebble Mine in Iliamna, Alaska, seen on Tuesday, August 27, 2013. The Pebble Mine could be the largest open pit mine on the continent, with an earthen tailings dam higher than the Washington Monument, and expected [unrealistically] to hold mine waste for hundreds to thousands of years, according to “new” Environmental Protection Agency “reversal” analysis. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

Governor is choosing Pebble over Alaskans

By Brian Kraft and Nanci Morris Lyon. Brian Kraft operates Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge in Igiugig. Nanci Morris Lyon operates Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon. / Anchorage Daily News

To little fanfare, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has once again rushed in to aid the proposed Pebble mine and is seeking to silence local Alaskans from voicing concern over impacts the mine will have to our fisheries, our rivers and our way of life. . .

. . . We operate successful sportfishing lodges in the Bristol Bay region, and like thousands of other Alaskans, our businesses rely on the region’s world-class fisheries, its clean, productive rivers and its wild and rugged scenery. . .

Science clearly shows the proposed Pebble mine would be disastrous to these irreplaceable resources and the culture, economy and communities of the region. An overwhelming majority of Alaskans recognize this, which is why Alaskans from both sides of the political aisle and all walks of life have vocally opposed the Pebble mine at every opportunity.

On a spawning run. A commons image.

Unfortunately, our governor is listening to the Canadian-based Pebble developers instead of his own constituents. Despite widespread opposition to the mine by Alaskans; a mine plan full of holes, errors, and risks; and a fast-tracked permit review process, time and again our governor has chosen to side with Pebble instead of Alaskans.

Last April, Gov. Dunleavy opposed allowing Alaskans more time to comment on the proposed Pebble mine in a letter that was written virtually word-for-word by staff at the Pebble Limited Partnership.

In June, based on Gov. Dunleavy’s request, the U.S. EPA abruptly reversed itself and withdrew protections for the Bristol Bay region that would have capped the impacts the proposed mine could have had on the Bristol Bay watershed.

The name “sockeye” is a corruption of an Indian tribes’ word “sukkai.” They average of 8-pounds and grow to 3-feet long. While spawning, the sockeye salmon is bright red with a greenish head. Later in their lives in the ocean, they turn to a silver with some blue and black on the head. Colors of the sockeye are very dependant on what stage of its life it is in. Life span is about five years. Sockeyes usually spend about one or two years in freshwater before migrating into the ocean. Adults usually stay in the ocean for two years and then go back to the freshwater to spawn. Wikipedia commons [Fly Life Magazine.com] image.

Then, in July, at Pebble’s request, Gov. Dunleavy sent a letter to Wheaton Precious Metals, encouraging the Canadian company to invest in the project and to ignore public opposition to the mine over impacts it will have to our families, businesses and communities. The governor wrote to Wheaton that he is “committed to removing obstacles that would hinder immediate construction.”

And now, the state of Alaska will defend Pebble in court on Monday as it once again seeks to silence Bristol Bay tribes and businesses like ours as we seek to reinstate protections for Bristol Bay’s fisheries.

Instead of representing Alaskans who live and run our family businesses here, Gov. Dunleavy has intervened in this lawsuit against Alaskans. He has chosen to stand up for a foreign mining company whose plan will undermine prosperous industries, like fishing and tourism, in our state.

Regarding the destruction of Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska. Photo: Luke Strickland / Alaska Marine Conservation Council — December 17, 2014.

Rather than picking up the phone for Pebble and fighting against his own people, Gov. Dunleavy needs to listen to Alaskans and the state’s own biologists to understand the huge risks the Pebble mine would bring, recognize that this project is not in the best interests of our state and call on President Donald Trump to deny Pebble’s federal permit.

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