Environment | Opinion

Robert Heyano: Alaska tribes committed to fight against mine

Native youth in the Bristol Bay, Alaska, area participate in a protest against the Pebble Mine. Photo from Facebook

Robert Heyano, the president of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, explains the story behind Alaska Native opposition to the Pebble Mine
For over a decade, Bristol Bay’s residents have battled Northern Dynasty to prevent hard rock metallic sulfide mines like Pebble from being developed -- not in their backyards, but in their front yards. The reason is simple: we must protect the most important renewable natural resource upon which we and almost everything else here depends -- wild salmon.

Annual returns of wild salmon support an economic powerhouse which provides 14,000 sustainable jobs and an industry valued at $1.5 billion. Our salmon feeds the world, with 51 percent of global sockeye salmon coming from Bristol Bay. In addition to the commercial fishery, our Alaska Native cultures have sustained themselves for generations on the salmon that return each summer to spawn. Sport anglers from across the globe travel to Bristol Bay for a small piece of its bounty.

These facts add up to an indisputable truth: Bristol Bay is a unique and valuable treasure that cannot be put at risk.

The Post’s article intimates that the battle over Pebble began with a tribal petition to EPA requesting that it use its authority under the Clean Water Act to prohibit mining in the Bristol Bay watershed. In doing so, the article misses the key reason the tribes submitted the petition in the first place.

Get the Story:
Robert Heyano: Post should have taken a deeper look at EPA, Bristol Bay and Pebble (The Alaska Dispatch News 2/17)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Status Update on the Proposed Determination for the Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska (January 29, 2015)

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