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Washington Senator, Chefs Weigh In Against Pebble Mine

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn
Jason Lake has been fishing in Bristol Bay for 25 years. Nearly 1,000 in Washington hold commercial fishing permits which brings in over $100 million to the state.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) stood at Seattle Fishermans’ Terminal Thursday alongside chef Tom Douglas and fishermen to denounce a controversial mine proposed at Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

“Now the science is in,” Cantwell declared, with Douglas and fishermen at her side and working boats behind her. “Oil and water don’t mix and neither do salmon and toxic mining pollution. After three years of study, it’s clear. The proposed Pebble Mine would poison the headwaters of these important Bristol Bay salmon watersheds.”

Cantwell and 250 chefs, including big names like Alice Waters and Tom Colicchio led by Douglas, have sent letters to President Obama to stop the mine.

This week’s protest comes on the heels of the release of an EPA assessment that found the proposed mine “would destroy a significant portion of the watershed, a pristine fishery that supports nearly half the world’s sockeye salmon and dozens of Native villages that have relied on fishing for thousands of years,” writes the Washington Post.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is among those critical of the EPA’s study, reports Los Angeles Times:

“EPA’s assessment stops short of prohibiting responsible development in the Bristol Bay watershed, but the agency has strongly implied that this report will be a basis to preemptively veto economic opportunities in the region in the future,” Murkowski said in a written statement. “I remain convinced that a preemptive veto of a mine or any other project, which the agency claims it can do under the Clean Water Act, would set a terrible precedent for development in our state and across the nation.”

Bristol Bay’s salmon are closely tied with Washington’s fishing industry. Nearly 1,000 in Washington hold commercial fishing permits which brings in over $100 million to the state.

Though the EPA’s assessment paints a pretty dire picture of Pebble Mine’s potential impact, the agency has stopped short of declaring any regulatory action to stop the proposal.
Read: Waypoints Blog's previous coverage of wild fish conservation.