Target: Director of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy and the Obama Administration
Goal: Protect Alaskan wildlife and residents from the construction of dangerous open pit mines.
The threat of Pebble Mine, a proposed open pit copper and gold mine, has hung over Alaskan residents and wildlife for almost a decade. If the two mining companies Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American are allowed to construct the mine, it would become North America’s largest mine of its kind, spanning two miles long by one and half miles wide and 1,700 miles deep. Prompted by outcry from Alaskan fishermen, residents, and native tribes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report assessing the effects a hypothetical mine representative of Pebble Mine. The EPA found that Pebble Mine would have disastrous effects for the region’s fisheries, rivers and aquatic life, and the people whose ways of life are dependent upon them.
The EPA has already acknowledged that hard rock mining is the leading cause of toxins being released into the environment; open pit mines–like the Pebble Mine–are among the worst. Momentarily ignoring the long-term environmental effects of the mine and its toxic runoff, simply constructing the mine would destroy approximately 90 miles of streams and 4,800 acres of wetlands. This fact alone should be cause for great concern, but considering how the mine would be positioned and operated makes the project even more dangerous. Pebble Mine would sit at the head of the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which flow into Bristol Bay, home of the world’s largest commercial wild salmon fishery that employs 11,000 people full time. The mine would produce approximately 11 billion tons of toxic waste that–in theory–would be held in earthen dams nearby. In reality, however, these types of damns have proven largely ineffective at keeping surrounding wildlife safe whether through leaks, accidents, reactions with the air, or contamination of groundwater. The EPA reported that these toxins would kill “many or all fish” near the site.
Fortunately the 404(c) provision of the Clean Water Act allows the EPA to halt any construction of a project whose waste would have “unacceptable adverse impact” on “fisheries, wildlife, municipal water supplies, or recreational areas.” Because the EPA has only invoked this veto privilege 13 times since 1972, however, Daniel Heggem and the Obama administration needs to be told loud and clear that projects like the Pebble Mine are unacceptable. Sign the petition below to demand protection from the devastating effects of Pebble Mine.
Dear Mr. Heggem and the Obama Administration,
The EPA’s efforts to assess the effects of a hypothetical mine representative of the Pebble Mine plans should be commended. Thanks to the recent EPA report, we now have a clear idea of the devastation and destruction Pebble Mine would bring to Alaskan wildlife, the region’s fisheries, and the people whose ways of life are dependent upon them. Ensuring that Pebble Mine will not wreak havoc on these precious resources cannot stop here.
If Pebble Mine were allowed to exist, approximately 90 miles of streams and 4,800 acres of wetlands would be immediately destroyed by construction alone. After construction, the mine would produce approximately 11 billion tons of toxic waste that–in theory–would be held in earthen dams nearby. However, history has shown us that these types of damns have proven largely ineffective at keeping surrounding wildlife safe whether through leaks, accidents, reactions with the air, or contamination of groundwater. In the EPA’s own words: these toxins would kill “many or all fish” near the site.
Aquatic and nearby wildlife would not only be in great danger. Because Pebble Mine would be positioned near Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which flow into Bristol Bay, thousands of full time and stable jobs would disappear as well; this is a sobering fact considering the state of our economy. Bristol Bay is home of the world’s largest commercial wild salmon fishery, thereby not only effecting Alaskan residents, but the entire world.
Thankfully, the EPA has the legal power to stop the destruction before it even begins. We demand that the EPA invoke the 404(c) provision of the Clean Water Act in order to stop any potential construction of Pebble Mine.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Uncle Kick-Kick via Flickr