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June 14, 2013 at 6:20 AM
Nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington and Oregon sent a letter this week to President Obama expressing their strong support for protecting the jobs and salmon resources in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
They join five Western senators who earlier sent a letter to the White House stating their grave concerns about the vast mining proposal under review by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The House members – Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith of Washington, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader of Oregon – asked the president to “move quickly to protect Bristol Bay from any open pit mining that would threaten the Pacific region’s fishing economy.”
Bristol Bay’s extraordinary fishing resources power commercial fishing and fish processing industries that extend down the West Coast. Add in sport fishing and tourism and the employment and income numbers climb even higher.
They are all alarmed by a proposal to “turn the habitat where these fish spawn into an industrialized hard rock mining zone.”
June 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is collecting public comments through the end of June on a proposed mining operation near Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay. In a pointed letter to President Obama, five West Coast senators expressed their concerns about the fishery resources and regional economic bounty threatened by the massive project.
The June 10 letter to the White House, copied to lots of administration officials, is signed by Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The five Democrats cite a new report by the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research that not only describes Bristol Bay’s impact in Alaska, but also its economic clout in Washington, Oregon and California.
The senators want the White House to dispatch staff from the Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of Commerce to discuss the report. Yes, do take a close look at the numbers. Here is a link to a summary of the ISER findings.
The report found that commercial fishing activity in Bristol Bay generates $1.5 billion in economic activity for Alaskans. The report also found that Bristol Bay salmon fishing and processing is worth $674 million in Washington, Oregon and California. That translates into 12,000 seasonal jobs and an estimated 6,000 fulltime jobs in the three states.
“Water contamination and habitat loss from the construction and operation of a hard rock mine in Bristol Bay would put thousands of fishery-related family wage jobs at risk,” the lawmakers wrote Obama.
The proposed Pebble Mine creates environmental hazards that will exist for decades – centuries. Early analysis by the EPA has already raised doubts about the project. The timely expression of concern by the senators is welcome. A recent Seattle Times editorial also urges the protection of Bristol Bay.
April 19, 2013 at 6:30 AM
The Whatcom Conservation District will note this coming Earth Day with a special event on Saturday adjacent to North Fork Nooksack Creek near Acme, WA. The one-millionth native tree will be planted as part of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in Whatcom County.
Earth Day is Monday, but the gathering on Saturday celebrates a milestone for a salmon habitat restoration plan that began in 1999. Details of the event, hosted by the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association and the conservation district, are available at the district’s online site.
The Washington State Conservation Commission, which funded the restoration, reports that 160 miles of streams and nearly 2,500 acres have been restored through nearly 350 projects in Whatcom County alone. Commission chairman Jim Peters is scheduled to speak at the ceremony.
The millionth tree will be a red cedar, which will join a range of trees and shrubs, that include spruce, various willow species, black cottonwood, red alder, red osier dogwood, Douglas fir, cascara, snowberry and rose. All planted by hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours.