Thursday, November 06, 2014

Alaskans pass measure that could lead to restricting controversial Pebble Mine project

On Tuesday, Alaskans voted in favor of a measure that could lead to restricting the controversial Pebble Mine project. "Ballot Measure 4, which would enable the Alaska Legislature to ban proposed mining in the Bristol Bay watershed if lawmakers believe the project would endanger wild salmon stocks, passed with 65 percent of votes in favor to 35 percent opposed," Sean Doogan reports for Alaska Dispatch News. "Currently, only state and federal agencies decide on mining permits.

"The measure adds another layer of oversight for the proposed Pebble mine," Doogan writes. "The mine site is near several Bristol Bay salmon streams that produce some of the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world. In 2008, Alaska voters rejected an outright ban on large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region. The Alaska Clean Water Initiative failed to pass with 43 percent of the vote." (Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay map)

In July the Environmental Protection Agency moved to block the project by "proposing tough new limits for gold and copper mining in the Bristol Bay watershed—a move that would greatly diminish the scale of the controversial Pebble Mine project," Linsdsay Abrams reports for Salon. While the move "won’t block the mine outright, it will effectively rob it of that largest-ever status, protecting Alaska’s important sockeye salmon fishery in the process."

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