Stopping Pebble Mine and Saving Alaska’s Wild Salmon
Pebble Mine was proposed as an open-pit mine to extract gold and copper. The project would require dredging up and filling an area in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska — the setting for enormous salmon runs that produce tens of millions of wild sockeye salmon each year, making Bristol Bay home to the largest wild salmon harvest in the world. Salmon has become the bedrock of the local economy, supporting a billion-dollar fishing industry and thousands of jobs. Not to mention, salmon plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of Alaskan Native tribes, serving as a primary food source.
And on top of wiping out nearly 100 miles of salmon streams, Pebble Mine was expected to generate 10 billion tons of dangerous waste and pollute 5,000 acres of waterways. Secret recordings also revealed company executives contradicting official figures they had submitted for approval, showing that corruption ran deep within this project.
Time and time again, polluting industries get away with projects like Pebble Mine — projects that sacrifice local ecosystems, economies, and Indigenous peoples without batting an eye.
That’s why local groups and environmental activists stepped up against the project. Friends of the Earth members sent petitions to the US Army Corps of Engineers, with more than 80,500 of our members calling on various federal agencies to stop this industrial mine.
Initially, our demands were met! The US Army Corps of Engineers denied the Pebble Mine permit to operate in Bristol Bay. But unfortunately, Pebble LP appealed the decision, and the fight continued.
We could not allow for the permanent loss of miles of critical salmon streams and more than 2,000 acres of wetlands in the region. So we doubled down on our pressure on the EPA to veto Pebble Mine. And once again, our members took action — we collected 23,289 signatures petitioning the EPA to stand up against the mine!
Finally, in January 2023, the EPA used its veto power, citing the Clean Water Act to block Pebble Mine! This was a huge decision, especially considering this was only the fourteenth time the EPA has vetoed a project, despite the millions of permits the agency has reviewed.
This fight has shown the gravity of how important protecting Bristol Bay really is — and the win is a cause for celebration for grassroots activism, local communities, and Alaskan wildlife. This is another notch in the belt of environmental justice that proves the power of our collective voices.