A coalition of more than 200 businesses that includes Patagonia, Hy-Vee, Whole Foods, and PCC Markets drafted a letter this week to speak out against Pebble Mine, a proposed open-pit copper, gold, and molybdenum mine at the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
The letter from the group, known as Businesses for Bristol Bay, was addressed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage, and requested that the Corps suspend its review of the permit application from the mining group, the Canada-based Pebble Limited Partnership.
Echoing the concerns of many, the Businesses for Bristol Bay said the process is incomplete and that officials are trying to rush the permit through.
“As businesses that are required to go through permitting on a regular basis, it is concerning to see the Army Corps stray from standard procedure and give preferential treatment to a junior mining company that still has not submitted a complete permit application. The NEPA process was created to ensure transparency and protection of the American public, especially in places like Bristol Bay that provide irreplaceable public goods and benefits,” the letter stated.
Resistance to the mine has brought together native corporations, commercial fishermen, and sport fishermen – groups that are often at odds on issues of resource management.
“It is widely recognized that Bristol Bay is a national treasure and is the cornerstone of Alaska’s seafood industry, which is known for sustainable, nutritious, premium quality seafood. Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery not only supports 14,000 jobs and [USD 650 million (EUR 582 million)] in annual income, but it also generates over USD 1 billion [EUR 896 million] of sales in other business sectors, including foodservice, retail, sport fishing, and outdoor recreation. To jeopardize this renewable economic engine for a 20-year mining project makes no sense both in principle and on paper,” the letter said.
The letter criticizes the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released by the Corps in February, saying it “fails to capture and evaluate the Pebble Mine’s true potential impacts on the ecological health and economic productivity of Bristol Bay.”
The coalition’s details its perceived shortcomings of the DEIS in its letter, saying the report lacks proper analysis on the impact of a tailings dam failure, does not assess the negative economic impact the mine would have on the surrounding communities, and fails to address how the local communities might be compensated.