Cantwell: “The Pacific Northwest is not going to stand by while the administration builds a gold mine in the middle of the largest salmon habitat area. We’re just not going to sit by.”
Commercial fishing in Bristol Bay is over 135 years old and supports 14,000 fishing jobs and 10,000 salmon-related jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, pressed officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on why the agency has chosen not to conduct a full consultation on the controversial Pebble Mine. The proposed mining project would have devastating impacts on Bristol Bay, one of the largest salmon fisheries in the world.
“The Pacific Northwest is not going to stand by while the administration builds a gold mine in the middle of the largest salmon habitat area. We’re just not going to sit by. Science – all of us, bipartisan – are for science and information. But a science agency has to participate in the process.”
At the hearing, Cantwell pushed for more engagement with fishermen throughout the Pacific Northwest whose livelihoods would be impacted by the proposed mine.
“I hope that NOAA will take into consideration our fisherman and listen to the fishermen. So far they have not listened to the fishermen off the Pacific Northwest and had a formal hearing,” Senator Cantwell said.
The Pebble Mine threatens to irreparably harm the Bristol Bay watershed, the 40-60 million salmon that return to it every year, and the fishermen and industries that rely on these salmon. A three-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency released in 2014 found that the mine as proposed would, even in the course of normal, safe mine operations, destroy 24 to 94 miles of pristine waterways and salmon habitat and contaminate an additional 48-62 miles of streams with toxic mine waste.
Senator Cantwell said, “I’m very concerned that NOAA has chosen not to be a cooperating agency with the Army Corps of Engineers permitting process as it relates to Pebble Mine…commercial fishing in Bristol Bay is over 135 years old and supports 14,000 fishing jobs and 10,000 industry jobs and is about $500 million in direct economic impact – valued at $1.5 billion. How is NOAA not warranted at this time to participate in a discussion about how that economy could be destroyed by a mine?”
Senator Cantwell has long fought to protect the Bristol Bay watershed and its important environmental and economic place in the Pacific Northwest. In January of 2014, she called on the Obama Administration to protect Bristol Bay from mining after a report showed the proposed mine would threaten salmon runs and damage the commercial fishing industry. In July of 2014, Cantwell praised proposed science-based protections for the Bristol Bay watershed. In October of 2017, Cantwell and other members of the Washington state congressional delegation urged President Trump to listen to Washington fishermen and businesses before removing protections from Bristol Bay. And in May 2018, Cantwell called on the Trump Administration to hold public meetings in Washington State on the proposal and increase transparency for the permitting process.
Video of the Pebble Mine Q&A is available HERE.