Today, I’m in London to thank the British mining giant, Rio Tinto, for its recent decision to pull out of the Pebble Mine.
In another major blow to what would be (if built) North America’s largest mine built on top of the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, Rio Tinto announced last week it was divesting from the project and donating its shares to two Alaska charities. The company held 19.1% of Northern Dynasty - the sole owner of the Pebble Project.
It’s a great day! Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is using its authority under the Clean Water Act to consider options for protecting the world’s largest wild salmon fishery in Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine.
The EPA is initiating a review process under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, which authorizes the agency to restrict or prohibit mine waste disposal in the rivers, streams or wetlands that feed Bristol Bay to safeguard the salmon fishery. During the review, the EPA will rely heavily on its peer-reviewed scientific assessment of the impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed, which was released in January 2014.
Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final study on the impacts of large-scale mining, including the proposed Pebble Mine, on Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
This is big news! Alaska’s Bristol Bay supports the world’s largest wild salmon fishery, and the fate of this fishery now rests in the hands of the EPA and Obama Administration.
The science is complete, and it’s definitive. There’s simply no way to avoid severe impacts. Even under routine operation,
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final study of the impacts of large-scale mining, including the proposed Pebble Mine, on Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The science is clear. Mining the Pebble deposit will have severe and lasting consequences for the world’s largest wild salmon fishery.
Like many Montanans, I jump at every chance to spend time on the Smith River. Growing up, it was a family tradition. My dad would load up the truck, throw in a hefty supply of Snickers and canned stew, and off we’d go to explore that remote and beautiful stretch of river.
We didn’t have any of the high-tech gear we have today – often just a sheet of clear plastic draped over our flannel sleeping bags. But I have vivid memories of the towering cliffs, the spectacular rock art, abundant wildlife and the giant trout that make the Smith River such a unique and beloved place.
It's great to have some good news to share, and this one's a whopper. Mercury air pollution from U.S. gold mines has dropped by half - from over 5,000 pounds in 2006 to 2,500 pounds in 2012. This is a remarkable change!
The biggest polluters were giant, open-pit gold mines in northern Nevada, where the amount of mercury pollution was off the charts! Yet, there were no regulations that required these mines to control their emissions.
State regulators in Maine are developing new rules for hardrock mining that throw fiscal responsibility to the wind. The rule, which is currently up for public comment, will allow mining corporations to post just 50% of mine clean-up costs up front, rather than the 100% that’s normally required -- transferring the risk of clean-up costs from the mining corporation to taxpayers.
It was right down to the wire. On June 27th, the Interior Department approved an extension for the mineral withdrawal along the Wild and Scenic Illinois River in Oregon. The existing withdrawal, which was set to expire on June 30th, has now been replaced with a new withdrawal that will protect the river from mining for the next 20 years.
We're thrilled about the withdrawal and the protection it affords this wild and beautiful river, but it does highlight the need for meaningful reform of the 1872 Mining Law, which prioritizes mining over all other land uses.