Important New York Times Op-Ed: Bring 1872 Mining Law Into 21st Century

January 13, 2012 • Bonnie Gestring

The science is in: the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, “has outlived its purpose and its environmental consequences have been severe.”

In a terrific op-ed in the New York Times, fisheries scientists Carol Ann Woody and Robert Hughes, express their deep concern about the impact mining has had on the nation’s dwindling fisheries and the inadequacy of the 1872 Mining Law to regulate modern mining.

With stunning facts and figures, the two scientists describe the tremendous toll to our nation’s rivers and streams, native fish, and public lands, and highlight the risk to important native fish populations in Oregon's Chetco Wild and Scenic River and Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

Top fisheries scientists weigh in on 1872 Mining Law Reform

December 6, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

It’s no secret that mining is no friend to our nation’s trout streams.  Now a group of top scientists from across the west, with over a century of combined experience, have weighed in on the topic, with a terrific opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News.  Don’t miss it!

And, if you want more detail, go to the full peer-reviewed article in Fisheries magazine, where they’ve supplied an endless number of case studies, and detailed recommendations for reforming the 1872 mining law.

Last month, Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts introduced a mining law reform and abandoned mine clean-up bill (H.R. 3446), which tackles many of these important issues.

As the scientists say, “We encourage Congress to bring our nation's mining law into the 21st Century. It's long overdue.

Tell Kay and Jared Jewelers (owned by Signet) to say no to dirty gold from Pebble Mine

November 17, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

The world's greatest wild salmon fishery - in Alaska's Bristol Bay - is at risk!  And, you can help.

Alaskans are asking Signet, the world's largest jewelry corporation to promise not to use gold from the proposed Pebble Mine - a massive copper gold mine that threatens the world's most valuable wild salmon fishery. Over fifty major jewelers have already promised.

Take 3 minutes: Help Protect Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Chetco River

November 11, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

The Wild and Scenic Chetco River is legendary for the beauty and clarity of its waters. And, it has whopping salmon and steelhead runs!

Although Congress protected the Chetco in 1988 by adding it to the National Wild and Scenic River System, the 1872 Mining Law gives mining preference over all other values and uses. Now proposals to suction dredge along much of this extroardinary river threatens allt he values the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act seeks to protect.

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Pebble Mine: another bad example!

November 7, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

The Pebble Limited Partnership profiled the Flambeau mine as a reclamation success story in its latest newsletter article.

What they don't mention about the mine is its on-going copper pollution.  But, it's all over the recent news.  "In the most recent tests, state records show that copper and zinc levels have exceeded state toxicity standards for surface waters, potentially threatening fish and other aquatic life."

Phosphate Mining Should Report Its Toxic Releases

October 11, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

Good news. The EPA is considering adding phosphate mines to the list of industries that must report the amount of toxic pollution they release into air, water and land. What? They don’t do this already? No. And, they should.

Phosphate mines are responsible for large releases of selenium, which is harmful to wildlife, livestock, fisheries, and public health.

Can mining and salmon co-exist? Read this!

August 30, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

Spawning salmon in Hanson Creek. Photo: Nick Hall
Spawning salmon in Hanson Creek.
Photo: Nick Hall

It s no surprise that there is overwhelming concern over the impact of the proposed Pebble Mine on the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. It s the world s largest wild salmon fishery, and the economic engine for the region.

Anglo American, the UK-based company proposing the mine, says that mining and salmon can co-exist, and they point to the Fraser River as an example of that. 

These two river systems are so different it s an odd comparison. But, more importantly, it completely undermines (no pun intended) their case.

A new paper by two fisheries biologists reports that impaired water quality and human development changes have resulted in the lowest productivity of Fraser River sockeye in over 50 years!

Anglo American suing to prevent local Alaskans from voting on Pebble Mine

August 3, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

Although Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll has repeatedly promised that the company wouldn't go forward with the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay if local communities don't support the mine, the company is suing to prevent local Alaskans from voting on a ballot initiative in October about whether they want the mine.  (See the ad from Alaska natives urging her to keep her promise.)

The ballot measure, if approved, would prevent the planning commission from issuing a development permit to any large resource extraction activity that would have a significant adverse impact on salmon-producing streams. Ironically, Cynthia Carroll has also promised that the mine wouldn't go forward if it would harm salmon. 

The issue is of international significance.  The massive mine is proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay in the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve - home to the world's largest and most valuable wild salmon fishery, which produces roughly 50% of the world's commercial supply of wild salmon.  A recent peer reviewed risk assessment found  concluded that the risks to wild salmon populations from such mining are very high, and that it is cause for significant concern regarding the long- term abundance and sustainability of salmon in the region.