It’s no secret that the issue of Pebble Mine has been a controversial one.
For years there has been support and opposition to a large mine in the Bristol Bay region.
But after the Environmental Protection Agency released a study suggesting a large mine in the area would pose a significant risk to sockeye salmon, anti-Pebble Mine voices seem to be getting louder and more prevalent.
On Monday, around 100 people gathered at a town hall meeting to applaud Senator Mark Begich’s (D-Alaska) recent decision to stand against a mine in Bristol Bay.
Senator Begich made his announcement shortly after the EPA released its final watershed assessment of state-owned lands in the region.
The Pebble Mine is sparking a larger debate nationally. Just last week, there was a rally in Seattle attended by fisherman worried about losing their jobs if the proposed mine were to happen.
“When the EPA came out with the science, this has been three years, the EPA has used massive amounts of science that pebble themselves has produced and advertised that they’ve been studying for years and years,” said Brian Kraft, owner of 3 fishing lodges in Bristol Bay.
Leaders from the fishing industry and representatives from the Bristol Bay region who attended Monday’s panel discussion say there’s a reason for the increased opposition.
“I think talking to people all over Alaska this is an issue we’ve been dealing with for a long time and I think people are starting to make up their minds more and more,” said Katherine Carscallen, a commercial fisher in Bristol Bay.
But CEO of Pebble Partnership, John Shively, thinks the EPA’s study was rushed and that the conclusion was just what could happen, not will happen if the mine were to go through.
“We think people should wait, now our opposition wants EPA to move in, shut us down before we even get a permit,” said Shively.
For now, the future of Pebble Mine is still unknown until the state issues a permit, but anti-Pebble Mine voices plan to grow louder and stronger.
Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not made any comments about Senator Begich’s position. She has criticized EPA for conducting the assessment based on a mine that hasn’t happened before any plan or permit hat been filed.
Senator Murkowski said in a statement that she and her staff plan on continuing to review the full document.