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Top Achievements

On the verge of permanent protection for Bristol Bay, Alaska

After 15 years of collaboration and advocacy with local Indigenous communities and grassroots organizations, a hard-fought victory was won in Bristol Bay. The Environmental Protection Agency announced their intention to use their authority under the Clean Water Act to permanently block the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. In addition to honoring the wishes of local impacted communities, this decision protects the area’s abundant salmon fishery.

A boat on water in Alaska's Bristol Bay. There are mountains in the distance.
Boat on Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Formosa Plastics denied air polluting permit

A photo of a power plant smokestack emitting fumes with the word DENIED written over it in all capital letters.

We’re also celebrating a huge victory for our partners at RISE St. James, a local advocacy group located in what is known as “Cancer Alley,” an area known for its overwhelming presence of
polluting industries. In 2022, the Louisiana District Court invalidated all 14 required state air pollution permits for Formosa Plastics, effectively indefinitely delaying their proposal to build a hazardous plastic plant in the community.

Major polluter in Colorado shut down

Optical gas imaging evidence led directly to the shuttering of a polluting facility in Colorado. After two years of advocacy by an Earthworks field team member and certified thermographer, Prospect Energy was ordered to shutdown operations at their Krause facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. This also marked the first time in over ten years that a facility was ordered to shut down for several months as a result of pollution.

Ongoing Progress

Defeating Manchin’s Dirty Deal (twice!)

In exchange for Sen. Joe Manchin’s support for this year’s Inflation Reduction Act, Democratic leaders signed off on a side deal that would expedite mine permitting. Earthworks joined Tribal leaders and allied organizations in protests and a lobbying blitz that twice defeated this dirty side deal.

Progress on federal mining reforms

Historic mining at Indian Pass.

Earthworks elevated mining reform as an issue within the Department of Interior and the Biden administration, cultivated strong allies in Congress, and engaged a diverse coalition of stake- holders, including Indigenous leaders. Earthworks participated in a White House Interagency Working Group on mining reform and introduced the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act in both houses of Congress. Congress appropriated $5M in the 2023 federal budget to the first-ever abandoned mine lands clean up program. In November, President Biden previewed several mining reform recommendations that will be formally introduced in 2023 at the Tribal Nations Summit.

Mining stopped in Montana’s Little Rocky Mountains

Alongside Indigenous communities in the Little Rocky Mountains, Montana, we have been advocating for a 20-year mineral withdrawal to protect federal land and honor land reclamation movements. In September, we celebrated as the Bureau of Land Management finalized the withdrawal, a huge win for Native communities.

Divestments and accountability

After years of pressure and dialogue with Earthworks and our allies, Norway’s largest asset manager, Storebrand, now prohibits investment in companies that dump mine waste into oceans. This prompted immediate divestment from three companies: Newcrest Mining, Harmony Gold, and First Quantum Minerals.