Five West Coast Senators Say Pebble Mine Threatens Fisheries

Five Senate Democrats representing West Coast states told
President Barack Obama on June 10 that his administration should consider the
impact on the West Coast fishing industry before permitting a large-scale mine
in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

The comments, contained in a letter to the White House, were
signed by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both D-WA; Jeff Merkley,
D-OR, and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both D-CA.

The senators cited a new report from the University of
Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research, which concluded that the
Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery generates $1.5 billion in economic
activity annually. The report also found that Bristol Bay salmon fishing and
processing is worth $674 million to Washington, Oregon and California while
creating 12,000 seasonal jobs and approximately 6,000 full-time jobs in those

The senators said the report clearly demonstrates that
Bristol Bay is an integral component of the broader Alaska and Pacific
Northwest seafood industry, with thousands of family wage jobs dependent on the
Bristol Bay salmon run.

“We support a valid, sound science based approach to
ensuring that Bristol Bay salmon are safeguarded,” they said. “To that end, we
respectfully ask that you make staff from both the Council on Environmental
Quality and the Department of Commerce available to our staff to discuss the
implications of this economic report, and how these two agencies, specifically,
are working with the EPA to protect our maritime economies.”

“Water contamination and habitat loss from the construction
and operation of a hardrock mine in Bristol Bay would put thousands of
fishery-related family wage jobs at risk,” the senators said. “Our states have
a strong maritime history of which our commercial fishing industries are a key
part. In order to maintain these direct fishing and processing jobs, and the
jobs supported by associated businesses like gear manufacturers, shipbuilders,
suppliers and other maritime businesses, we must maintain healthy, sustainable
fishery resources.”