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KING SALMON-As the Lake and Peninsula Borough's October 4th election date draws nearer, the 1,192 potential voters of the borough are in the sights of both sides in the contentious election. Both the "Save our Salmon" and the "Defend Your Rights" campaigns have inundated the radio and television media with ads for or against the controversial Pebble mine and its construction.
At the head of the “Save our Salmon” initiative is Bob Gillam, an unlikely conservationist, the founder and head of McKinley Capital and the Gillam Foundation, who has repeatedly proclaimed his pro-mining bent yet opposes the Pebble mine. Gillam has bankrolled the anti-pebble “Save Our Salmon” campaign to the tune of $375,000 since February of this year.
“People say, ‘How can you oppose Pebble?’ I oppose Pebble because it is bad for Alaska,” Gillam states. “My objective is to publicize Pebble, to have people around Alaska take notice of it and the destruction of the last great salmon run on Earth.”
On the other side of the election coin is the “Defend Your Rights” campaign. This group is funded almost entirely by Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo-American, the two corporations that make up the Pebble Limited Partnership entity. They have reported contributions of $115,885 not counting funds used to counter efforts to place the controversial initiative before the voters of the Lake and Peninsula Borough.
The Bristol Bay Native Corporation, another player in the controversy, has mailed a letter to approximately 800 of the households in the L&P Borough urging their shareholders to vote in the October 4th election.
On the BBNC site, President Jason Metrokin states, “To be clear, BBNC supports responsible resource development. That means development that is fiscally, environmentally and socially sustainable. It means development that serves the long-term interests of our people, our region and our businesses. After much research and deliberation, BBNC has concluded that the proposed Pebble Mine poses unacceptable risks to salmon and other resources of the region. These risks threaten the economic, social and cultural well-being of our shareholders and all residents of the Bristol Bay region.”
The 2011 Arctic Science Conference has also chosen the Pebble mine as its focal point in its conference that will be held in Dillingham this year. That conference is set to begin on Wednesday, September 21st, and will run until Saturday September 24th.
If built, the Pebble mine will be the largest open-pit mine on the planet. It will be situated at the head waters of the Salmon streams that supply approximately 50% of the yearly harvest of Sockeye Salmon to the world.