Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, is calling for expansion of the latest public comment period to the proposed Pebble mine to include Washington state fishermen, shipbuilders, sportsmen, small businesses and other stakeholders.
Cantwell noted in a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers on May 31 that in addition to the 90-day public comment period for the scoping process, the Corps had only nine public scoping meetings, all in Alaska. “This expedited process is grossly insufficient and does not allow my constituents the opportunity to participate in the permitting process in person,” she said. “Washington fishermen, suppliers and businesses have an enormous interest in ensuring that Bristol Bay salmon continue to thrive for generations.”
They have built an economy around this one-of-a-kind sustainable fishery and they “deserve a seat at the table as the Army Corps considers the proposed Pebble mine,” said Cantwell. “The stakes are too high to leave out these important voices,” for a fishery that includes thousands of jobs in Washington state.
“In addition to commercial fisheries, private anglers take an estimated 37,000 fishing trips every year to Bristol Bay, generating $60 million in economic activity and supporting another 850 full and part time jobs.”
Cantwell said the proposed mine threatens to irreparably harm the Bristol Bay watershed, the 40-60 million salmon that return there every year, and the fishermen and industries that rely on these salmon.
A three-year study by the US Environmental Protection Agency released in 2014 found that the mine as proposed would, even during normal, safe mine operations, destroy 24 to 94 miles of pristine waterways and salmon habitat and contaminate an additional 48-62 miles of streams with toxic mine waste.