In conjunction with our partners and allies, Earthworks is proud to accept the BENNY award today on behalf of the Bristol Bay campaign to protect the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery from destructive mining. The BENNY awards are issued each year by the Business Ethics Network for successful corporate campaigns to achieve social and environmental change. Read more here.
Over the last few years, Earthworks, Nunamta Aulukestai, Natural Resources Defense Council and other local, state and national allies have worked to convince two mining giants, Anglo American and Rio Tinto, that Bristol Bay is simply the wrong place for large-scale mining. With Anglo American and Rio Tinto’s divestment from the Pebble Project in 2013 and 2014, we are one step closer to lasting protection for this phenomenal ecosystem.
Now, we look to the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to finalize the restrictions against mine waste disposal in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, which it proposed in July 2014. These restrictions will protect the rivers, streams and wetlands that provide vital spawning grounds for the salmon to reproduce, and ensure that the Bristol Bay salmon fishery will continue to supply more than 14,000 annual jobs, produce half of the world’s supply of wild sockeye, and sustain the Alaska Native communities who rely on the salmon as their primary source of food.
Every year, millions upon millions of wild salmon return to the headwaters of Bristol Bay, like no place else on earth. Next year, a surge of more than 53 million wild salmon are predicted to return! Let’s make this the year that Bristol Bay protections are complete.
When it comes to statements on fracking by elected officials, my motto is usually “stunning but not surprising.” Yesterday, that was replaced by “surprising and stunningly amazing”—thanks to New York Governor Cuomo’s decision to prohibit shale gas drilling in the state.
This week, New York State’s Comptroller issued a report examining the work of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in an era of budget cutbacks. The conclusion: “The combination of increased responsibilities, reduced staffing, and ongoing fiscal pressure raises questions regarding the DEC’s capacity to carry out its critical functions.”
Specifically, DEC funding is down over 15 percent since 2008 and new responsibilities haven’t come with new staff and resources. DEC is being forced to do more with less—and this in a state with a de facto moratorium on shale gas development.
In the early days of the shale gas and oil boom, communities were often caught off guard by the onslaught of activity. Geoscientist David Hughes sums up the phenomenon: the shale play lifecycle starts with “discovery followed by leasing frenzy.”
Fortunately, many communities and organizations have caught up fast. Landowners who were “fleased” are educating others to avoid similar problems. Municipalities and states have passed hundreds of measures to restrict drilling. The health, environmental, and social risks of oil and gas development are being researched and documented.
Even better, some residents and local and regional groups quickly realized the importance of coming out swinging in their own defense. Virginia provides a key, inspiring example.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to transfer protected public lands, sacred to the Apache people, to foreign mining corporations digging for copper. Near the town of Superior, AZ, these areas include the Oak Flat Campground enjoyed by campers, hikers, climbers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts. It is also the site of Apache Leap- a cliff overlooking Superior where, according to legend, some eighty Apache warriors who found themselves surrounded by Gen. Custer’s cavalry leapt to their deaths rather than face capture.
You're invited to a briefing exposing the lie of a long-term fracking boom.
The briefing will include a presentation by David Hughes, the analyst who accurately predicted the 90% downgrade of California’s Monterey Shale.