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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Go Where People Don't Want You

In Bristol Bay last night, a monumental vote was counted. The Save Our Salmon Initiative in the Lake and Penn borough's ballot.  The initiative passed.  Yes!   Keep in mind that Lake and Penn borough is a county equivalent encompassing much of Bristol Bay.  (The other borough in the area is called the Bristol Bay borough and is the spread from Naknek to King Salmon)  Lake and Penn is the second least densely populated (approx 1800 people and 0.0296 inhabitants/km²) county equivalent in the country and is almost as large as the state of West Virginia itself.  Remote, check.

The Save Our Salmon initiative sought to change the Borough's existing permitting code to say, “where a resource extraction activity could result in excavation, placement of fill, grading, removal and disturbance of the topsoil of more than 640 acres of land and will have a significant adverse impact on existing anadromous waters, a development permit shall not be issued by the (planning) commission.”

The results of this vote solidify what we know.  People in this region do not want large scale open pit mining at the headwaters of the critical spawning and rearing habitat for the largest run of sockeye salmon left in the world.  Anglo American CEO, Cynthia Carroll, has said "we will not go where people don't want us.".  Well Cynthia, it's time to get the hell out.  We don't want you.
From Alaska Native News:

Saying that the initiative will not survive the court battle, Pebble made a statement in regards to the election, "This was a very close election and we are appreciative of the many voters from the Lake and Peninsula Borough who dedicated time to understand the true risks presented by this ill-conceived ordinance and the very real impacts it could have regionally. We are united with the community in the goal to protect the fishery, which is why we have dedicated significant time and energy to study the environment around the Pebble resource."   They state that the local government has no  authority over the resources in that region, instead, they say that the decision belongs to the legislature according to the Alaska Constitution.

I firmly believe the citizens of this region should have a say in a large scale, open pit mine put in their backyard:

Kennecott Mine, photo from Save Bristol
Just in case you were thinking the Pebble Partnership might actually be interested in protecting the pristine habitat and clean water of Bristol Bay, I thought I would share this video again:

Lake and Penn Area facts:

 - Total 30,907 sq mi (80,049 km²)
 - Land 23,782 sq mi (61,595 km²)
 - Water 7,125 sq mi (18,454 km²), 23.05%

What can you do?
Write your Congressman, Senator, and President Obama.
Write the EPA.
Donate funds to Save Bristol Bay
Attend the Bristol Bay Road Show in the city nearest to you.

Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place. Thank you for your help.