DSC disagrees with the decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to settle the lawsuit against Northern Dynasty Minerals – a Canadian company that proposed the controversial Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The settlement reverses previous efforts to prevent progress of the extrication of a massive undeveloped ore deposit in Bristol Bay and to protect the pristine waters and wildlife of the area.
The settlement will allow the foreign mining company to apply for a federal permit for the proposed mine that has the potential to devastate one of the most productive fisheries in the world. The ecosystem in Bristol Bay supports nearly 10,000 full-time jobs and generates $1.5 billion in economic output. While the Pebble Mine will create jobs, most will be temporary and do not offset the potential for damage to what many consider as a consummate example of a sustainable economy that depends on a healthy ecosystem.
Bristol Bay is home to more than 40 terrestrial mammal species, including bear, moose and caribou. All five Pacific salmon species found in North America, as well as more than 20 other fish species and 190 bird species are also found in the affected area. The pebble deposit is located at the headwaters of Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which produce about half of the sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay.
A briefing published by the Center for American Progress lists some of the details contained in the original assessments for the project. “Because the deposit’s ore is so diffuse, the mine would require not only an open pit thousands of feet deep and two miles to three miles wide, but also tailings reservoirs to hold toxic mine waste that could cover more than 7,600 acres, or 12 square miles, and would remain in perpetuity.”
While this settlement does not assure projects at the Pebble Mine will be approved, DSC urges the potential impacts to wildlife and local economies be closely examined when considering this or similar projects in the future.