We are writing on behalf of the thousands of American businesses and fishing families, along with the millions of consumers who depend on Bristol Bay, Alaska’s world-class wild salmon fisheries. As members of the business sector, we support the protection of the Bristol Bay watershed from the proposed Pebble Mine and stand by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Proposed Determination to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining. The EPA's decision was based on a rigorous peer-reviewed, science-based Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which concluded that even a small-scale mine could have devastating impacts in Bristol Bay. We are united in our opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine and urge you and your administration to protect America’s jobs, renewable industries, and the food security of our nation.
As documented in the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, Bristol Bay is one of the last great wild salmon fisheries left in the world, with an average of 40 million sockeye salmon returning to its waters annually. Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery is a pillar of the Alaska Seafood brand and has employed Americans for over 130 years. Today, it supplies over 40% of the world’s sockeye salmon, provides over 14,000 jobs, and generates $1.5 billion in annual economic activity. Crab, halibut and other species rely on Bristol Bay as a nursery as well. It is truly unmatched in its ecologic and economic productivity.
For over a decade, Bristol Bay’s fishing industry and communities have been overshadowed by the proposed Pebble Mine project; a massive, low-grade ore deposit in a seismically active, wet and porous region at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed. If developed, the Pebble Mine would jeopardize thousands of independent businesses and an economic engine that has sustained rural Alaskans for decades. In the event of an accident or environmental disaster, there is no doubt that American taxpayers will bear the costs and the consequences of cleaning up the contamination and destruction; the Pebble Mine is simply a bad investment for America.
In response to the clear threat that Pebble Mine poses, an unprecedented coalition of Alaska Native tribes, commercial fishermen, restaurateurs, grocers, anglers and hunters, religious groups, conservationists, jewelers, investment firms, and outdoor enthusiasts have come together to secure adequate protection for the Bristol Bay region. Over one million Americans submitted comments to the EPA requesting that it take action to protect Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act’s Section 404(c). In addition to these concerned citizens and stakeholders, some of the world’s largest mining companies have walked away from the Pebble Mine, abandoning their investments in this highly risky, ill-founded, and costly project. That is why Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. – a Canadian junior mining company that has never built a mine – is left without any backers for the Pebble Mine project. We ask that you stand by the majority of Alaskans who have said repeatedly that they will not trade their wild salmon for gold and heed the EPA’s Proposed Determination, which only confirms what is abundantly obvious: the Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place.
During your campaign you promised that you would “be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.” Bristol Bay is an opportunity to stand by this promise and protect hard-working Americans. Bristol Bay is a chance to make it clear that our nation will do whatever it takes to protect our nation’s businesses, families, and economy. We oppose your recent decision to undo protections for Bristol Bay's fisheries and urge you to uphold the EPA’s previous determination to save Bristol Bay.