This week, I thought I would shake things up a bit and invite John Copp here on PickFish Tales to bend your ear about Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska. John is a fellow Fisher Poet and commercial fisherman who fished Bristol Bay, Alaska for alotta years. And he's got something to say about the proposed mine.
Visualize a giant meteor crashing to earth. It digs a hole big enough to be seen from outer space. It generates ten billion tons of material so toxic that it destroys every living thing in a ten square mile radius,not just today, but for the next thousand years. No, this isn't a science fiction movie. It's Pebble Mine. If allowed to be built, say goodbye to the last great wild fishery left, Bristol Bay, Alaska.
A highlight of the 2013 Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon, was a Pebble Mine panel. Panelists included an environmental attorney, fisheries biologists from the University of Washington and Oregon State University, an historian with a social conscience, a successful author who illustrated the dangers from copper mines in his recent book (Boom, Bust, Boom), and two politically active young fishermen.The panel provided fact-based arguments, a solid understanding of the threat to the fisheries, and a clear grasp of how existing law can be applied. The room was packed, and the audience was keenly interested and full of important questions. Most importantly, the panel gave hope that we can save Bristol Bay.
Economics alone justifies saving the Bay. For instance, Oregon's fifty or so Bristol Bay salmon fishermen (and the hundreds of Oregonians who work for them) bring home over $10 million dollars each season. That doesn't include revenue from crab, herring, and guiding sport fishermen. Fishermen from Alaska, California, and Washington earn far more. Panelists agreed on a key point: large scale open-pit mining CAN NOT COEXIST with wild fisheries. The reason that Bristol Bay is so bountiful is water. Clear, pure water, running wild and free. Pebble's infrastructure alone will massively damage the water. Not only will it use massive amounts, it will insert toxins throughout the ecosystem. Study after study has shown the negative impact of toxic metals and acids on salmon biology. It doesn't take much.
Saving Bristol Bay depends on the White House supporting the scientific assessment that the EPA has done on Bristol Bay. Pressure exerted by Congress and the Senate on the White House will be key. That in turn will depend up pressure exerted by individual citizens on their State Representatives. The miners have deep pockets and are lobbying politicians day and night. Time is running act. If you, dear reader, care two cents about saving Bristol Bay, TAKE ACTION. Contact your Representatives, President Obama, and the EPA. Donate a few bucks to groups leading the fight against Pebble, including Natural Resource Defense Council, Trout Unlimited, and Fishermen for Bristol Bay. We still can win! -John Copp (firstname.lastname@example.org)