At over 16 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the U.S.
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In yet another step towards Bristol Bay protection, on July 18, 2014, the EPA issued a “proposed determination,” defining strict standards the proposed Pebble Mine would need to achieve before securing permits under the Clean Water Act. This means that any developer wishing to mine the Pebble deposit must prove that its operations will not have an unacceptable adverse effect on Bristol Bay’s water resources. Read more here.
A 60-day comment period is now open! Click here to learn more about how to be involved in the process.
British-Australian mining goliath Rio Tinto Group announced it was pulling out of the proposed Pebble open-pit mining project located at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s salmon spawning grounds. The stunning move follows at the heels of global mining giant Anglo American’s withdrawal last year from Pebble, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to begin the process of restricting and possibly prohibiting the development of a mine in Bristol Bay’s watershed.
Rio Tinto had been reviewing its association with the proposed Pebble mine for the past year, and concluded that its reputation was at risk as a result of its investment in the project.
Read more here.
The U.S. EPA announced on February 28th it would begin a process for taking action to protect Bristol Bay, and the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery, from the proposed Pebble Mine. This is welcome news to ACF, our many partners, and the over 850,000 citizens – from Bristol Bay, Alaska, and around the country – who asked EPA to protect this unparalleled ecosystem from certain destruction. Read EPA’s press release and critical next steps here.
Entering its third year, Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Alaska Native Fund distributed $173,484 to Alaska Native organizations and individuals supporting indigenous projects protecting lands, waters and ways of life. In 2014, the Alaska Native Fund is providing grants to 13 Alaska Native organizations and three Alaska Native individuals.
Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich announced his opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine after an extensive study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded significant risks to salmon as a result of large-scale mining operations in Bristol Bay’s watershed.
Begich has long supported Alaska’s mining industry, but he recently passed judgment on the colossal gold and copper mine project saying it was “the wrong mine in the wrong place for Alaska.” He further stated that “years of scientific study (have) proven the proposed Pebble Mine cannot be developed safely in the Bristol Bay watershed.” Read more here.
After nearly three years of scientific studies, two rounds of public comment and independent peer review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally released the conclusive version of its watershed assessment detailing the impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine on Bristol Bay. The damage is certain, and the science convincingly established.
The facts from the EPA study confirmed that Pebble would destroy more than 90 miles of streams and eliminate more than 5,000 acres of wetlands. The EPA also concluded that mitigation strategies were unlikely to prevent impacts to fish and aquatic life as a result of acidic and metals-laden waters produced by mining. Read the Executive Summary to the assessment here.
Governor Sean Parnell continues to aggressively seek the passage of House Bill 77, which would remove people from the public comment process on many resource extraction permitting decisions. It would also limit tribes and citizens from obtaining water reservations needed to ensure the passage of wild salmon, which most Alaskans rely upon, to reach their natal streams.
In December, ACF deployed a Rapid Response grant to ensure Alaskans were heard loud and clear. Business, tribal and conservation advocates held open public forums on the bill in Homer, Soldotna and Anchorage in response to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ failure to convene similar meetings. More than 500 people attended the forums with more than 100 Alaska Native tribal leaders, lodge owners, commercial and sport fishermen testifying to oppose the bill. Only one person, a paid lobbyist, spoke in favor. The legislature will consider the bill when the legislative session reconvenes in January 2014. ACF is committed to ensuring that Alaskans have a voice in the constitutional democratic process. Read more here.
Riversdale Alaska, an Australian-owned mining company with interests in southcentral Alaska’s Matanuska Valley reported that their proposed coal project at Chickaloon will now be on hold indefinitely. They will maintain their leases from the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust, but do not plan to do any more exploration at this time. They have closed their Alaska-based offices giving reasons that they intend to focus on projects in Alberta that are closer to development. This is great news for residents of the area and others, who are concerned about the impacts of developing Alaska’s coal, and its effects on global climate, as well as on the people, land, and waters of Alaska. With support from ACF, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Castle Mountain Coalition, Alaska Center for the Environment and Trustees for Alaska have led this important campaign. Read more here.
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