President Biden: It’s Time to Protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine

On the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s promise to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Earthworks and our allies sent a letter to the EPA, urging the agency to take immediate action under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s greatest wild salmon fishery from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Protecting Bristol Bay couldn’t be more urgent or important. As salmon runs struggle in other parts of the world, this year’s Bristol Bay salmon run broke all previous records. More than 65.5 million wild sockeye salmon made the epic journey from the ocean back to Bristol Bay this year—enough salmon to encircle the lower-48 states twice, if lined up tip to tail!

These salmon are an economic powerhouse, generating $2.2 billion in annual economic activity, supporting 15,000 jobs, sustaining the health and culture of indigenous communities, and producing more than half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon!  This sustainable resource can continue to power our economy and feed the world if the salmon’s spawning habitat in the headwaters of Bristol Bay is protected.

As stated in our letter, we need the EPA to act immediately to protect Bristol Bay’s wild salmon:

“As we watch rivers across the west coast suffer from drought and extreme temperatures that are decimating salmon and other species, the salmon harvest in Bristol Bay is simply irreplaceable. Yet, the CEO of the foreign company proposing to mine the Pebble deposit continues to double down on his commitment to build. Even if he isn’t successful, another mining company can simply pick up where Pebble left off. Until Bristol Bay is permanently protected, this watershed and the salmon it supports remain at risk.”

The letter follows on recent protection requests to the EPA by United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Native Association, and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.

“Since our tribes first petitioned the EPA in 2009, we have been clear in our request of the agency: issue a Section 404(c) determination under your Clean Water Act authority and protect our watershed from large-scale mining like the proposed Pebble Mine.”

Earthworks also sent its own letter highlighting the unprecedented pledge taken by many of the world’s most prominent jewelers, including Tiffany & Co., Ben Bridge, Helzberg Diamonds and others, recognizing that there are some places—like Bristol Bay—where large-scale mining is not the best use.

Please join us in calling on President Biden to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Take action here.