ANCHORAGE, AK – Monday in Anchorage, close to 200 Alaskans gathered in the pouring rain to show their opposition to Pebble Mine.
The rally was held outside the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage, where the Pebble Limited Partnership’s “advisory committee” planned to hold a private meeting about how to build a mine at the headwaters of the world’s greatest sockeye run in Bristol Bay. Tellingly, Pebble changed the location of the meeting in order to avoid hearing directly from Alaskans opposing the project. Still, opponents gathered to send the message that Bristol Bay will not help build a mine that isn’t wanted in the region.
Tommy Tilden, Nunamta Aulukestai board member and Curyung Tribal Chief, made a statement, saying, “Moose season opened yesterday in Bristol Bay. But instead of heading upriver, many of our people are here in Anchorage today to continue the fight to protect our way of life. We’ve been fighting this battle for more than a decade, because the continuing successes of our fisheries means jobs for our communities, fish in our freezers, and a way of life passed down from generation to generation. The best the Advisory Committee can do is go HOME. Stop wasting your time and ours, because this mine cannot be built in Bristol Bay.”
Nelli Williams, of Trout Unlimited, voiced her opposition in a statement, stating, “The people, cultures, and thousands of fish-based businesses in Bristol Bay rely on clean water. As the largest potential risk to the water and salmon of Bristol Bay, we studied Pebble’s plans closely. Through clear science, we see that there is no way for Pebble to safely operate a gold and copper mine alongside wild salmon runs in Bristol Bay, regardless of how large or small the project may be pitched over the coming months. Pebble has asked us for input, and we’ve given it to them time and again: Pebble Mine is not welcome, and is not worth the risk to the greatest fishing region in Alaska. We are unsure of how to be any clearer than that.”
United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley reported, “The Pebble Limited Partnership was having an advisory committee here today. It was a closed door private meeting, and Bristol Bay unilaterally said no. We will not participate in a discussion of how to build the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. We scared them away, and they moved to a different location. They are literally hiding from Alaskans on the discussion of Pebble Mine.”
Nondalton Tribal Council President William Evanoff announced, “Bristol Bay is a vibrant place. Salmon are spawning. Schools are reopening. Youth are learning our native languages. Families are thriving. Pebble talks about a dying region that needs jobs from a mine. But that’s just their way of trying to make us dependent on them. We are here today to tell the advisory committee that we do not need a mine that threatens the world’s last great sockeye fishery. Bristol Bay salmon have sustained the region’s Native people for GENERATIONS. We will not risk our fishery for a mine. We will not trade our salmon for gold!”
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation CEO, Norm Van Vactor spoke out against the Pebble Project, saying, “Northern Dynasty’s Pebble project has been a cloud over Bristol Bay’s head for more than a decade. We are tired of the Pebble Limited Partnership lying about our region and trying to intimidate us into supporting them. Enough is enough. Bristol Bay has a robust economic engine that is sustainable— our fisheries. Just this year, the commercial fishery harvested more than 37 million sockeye. The sockeye run and harvest broke records. That’s the economy we want. That’s the economy we will fight to preserve.”
Former State Senator Rick Halford said:
“It has been much more than just a decade of deception. Pebble has been telling us things that weren’t true over and over again.” said former state Senator, Rick Halford. “The 2006 plan, the 2008 plan, the 2012 plan. The statements by Anglo that ‘we will not build this unless we have local support.’ They know they don’t have local support. They don’t have Alaskans and they don’t have Bristol Bay residents by 90 percent. The fact is that salmon are life to Bristol Bay. They feed everything from the tiniest microorganism to the brown bear. They feed the heart, the soul and the faith of everybody there. And they feed the dreams of people worldwide.”