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The Case Against the Pebble Mine—“Not Now, Not Ever”

Last summer alone, the fishery produced a record of 62 million wild salmon, and every year it generates revenue of $1.5 billion and jobs for 14,000 people.

When I’m asked why NRDC is so determined to stop the Pebble Mine, I mention that Pebble is a massive open pit gold and copper mine proposed by an underfunded Canadian owner—Northern Dynasty Minerals—for construction in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the greatest wild salmon ecosystem on Earth.

Pebble Mine location, Bristol, Alaska. By Erin McKittrick, www.aktrekking.com/pebble/ from Wikimedia Commons.

I explain that it is one of the most reckless, widely-opposed development projects anywhere in the world today—an environmental, social, and economic pariah on a global scale, and a bad long-term investment.

And here’s why:

Consider this extraordinary history of condemnation by diverse stakeholders around the world, each of whom has said, in one way or another, “not now, not ever” to the Pebble Mine. For example, Pebble has been:

  • opposed for decades by 80 percent of the residents in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region where it would be built;
  • described in 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after years of peer-reviewed scientific study, as potentially “catastrophic” in its environmental impacts;
  • dismissed “as the wrong mine in the wrong place” by a consensus of former EPA Administrators from every Republican President (except Ford) since EPA was created—Nixon, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
  • abandoned by four of the world’s leading mining companies—Mitsubishi Corporation (2011), Anglo American (2013), Rio Tinto (2014), and, just last May, First Quantum Minerals (2018);
  • denounced in 2016 by the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which voted virtually unanimously to oppose the Pebble Mine and urge the United States government to deny permits;

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