‘Alaskans will vigorously defend their existing cultural and economic interests’
ANCHORAGE – Twenty members of the Alaska Legislature on Monday signed a letter correcting inaccurate statements made by the governor about the ease with which the State of Alaska might permit the proposed Pebble Mine.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy in a July 30 letter to the chief executive officer of Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. claimed that the state will actively defend the company’s investment in the proposed mine at the edge of Bristol Bay from “interference” and “frivolous and scurrilous attacks.”
Lawmakers responded today in a letter to CEO Randy Smallwood, saying, “Opposition to this project is both local and statewide, and is not frivolous, slanderous or interference. As individual Alaskans, our opposition to this project arises from the potentially severe social, economic, and cultural risks that the Pebble Mine represents.
“Alaskans will vigorously defend their existing cultural and economic interests, and assuming that permitting will be pro forma carries substantial risk. As Alaskans, we refuse to jeopardize an existing, sustainable resource for the sake of an economically dubious project.”
Bristol Bay’s world-class commercial fishery has existed for more than 135 years and provides 4,200 jobs in the region and more than $1.2 billion in annual economic output nationally. Fish are inextricably woven into the cultural and economic fabric of the Bristol Bay region. This resource has been developed in a sustainable, responsible manner, and could continue to provide economic benefit to the people of the region for centuries to come.
“We cannot say the same about the Pebble Mine,” the September 9 letter states. “In contrast to sustainable fisheries, the economic benefit of mineral extraction is relatively short term.”