Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pebble Mine

I saw the short film Red Gold at this year's Banff Mountain Film Festival.  One of the environmental films was about the Pebble Mine in Alaska.  The short story is that there was recently an enormous amount of copper and gold found very near to Bristol Bay, the most important salmon waters in the world.  Now there is a battle between the mining company that owns the rights, and environmentalists and residents that don't want to see the rivers and salmon runs ruined by mine pollution.  A Men's Journal article gives a good summary.  One of the comments to the article was particularly poignant.

The problem I see as I visit each summer is that while people like us debate this issue and hope the mining project will not occur, the reality is that every day in this area there are helicopters in the air, and people and equipment on the ground moving forward with the implementation of infrastructure needed for this mine to be created. In other words, we’re talking while they’re working.
With the horrible track record of open pit mines, I have little doubt that the salmon would be greatly deminished by the pollution.  With hundreds of billions of dollars at stake though, and Alaskans  seeming to care less for their environment than economic development, as seen by the rejected ballot measure in August that sought to protect the area, I fear and suspect the worst.

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