Stopping Pebble Mine: Science is stupid

Wall Street Journal The attack on the EPA’s proposed protections for Bristol Bay is marked by rhetoric, erroneous facts and ignores comprehensive scientific records showing unacceptable adverse effects of the widely condemned gold and copper mine proposed for Bristol Bay springs.

Bristol Bay watershed

In an editorial of May 30, 2022, entitled The Canary in the Pebble Mine, The Wall Street Journal attacks the issuance by the Environmental Protection Agency on May 26, 2022 of a proposed determination that will prohibit or restrict the construction of a pebble mine in the upper waters of the largest wild salmon fishery on Earth.

According to diarythe EPA’s actions are a “political attack” and “a textbook example of why the United States is vulnerable to foreign mineral extortion and extraction.”

This is colorful rhetoric, no doubt aimed at inflaming the ideological prejudices of readers who are unfamiliar or not interested in reality (ie, the facts) of the decades-long intensive scientific process that led to the recent EPA proposal. This process includes, for example, two formal peer reviews of EPA’s findings, numerous public hearings and comment periods (including another currently under way) and over two million public comments, with strong support for EPA’s actions.

If the widely condemned Pebble Mine is a “textbook example” of something, it is a failure in mining – already abandoned in the last decade by four global mining companies. Shares of the now 100 percent owner of the Northern Dynasty Minerals project fell from a 2011 high of more than $ 21.00 to just $ 0.30 today.

It is not a mystery why:

The project is proposed to build in the upper waters of the world’s most productive salmon fishery – Bristol Bay fishing – which generates more than 50 percent of global supplies and $ 2.2 billion in annual revenue and is ready to produce a record 73.4 million fish. only this summer. In 2020, the Trump administration refused to authorize the project, and two Alaskan senators (Republicans Lisa Markowski and Dan Sullivan) abandoned the project. Even the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, explaining that he was “not against digging,” famously dismissed the Pebble mine as “the wrong mine for the wrong place.” For almost two decades, he has been actively opposed by more than 80 percent of the people living in the Bristol Bay area.

The recent EPA proposal is not a “political attack”; this is the latest bipartisan acknowledgment that there are some places on Earth that are too special for me to understand.

In support of the accusation of “mineral extortion and extraction”, the editorial made a false choice between electric vehicles and the minerals they needed, erroneously characterizing the NRDC report of April 2022. to do it. Contrary to diary argue that the NRDC has never “called for a moratorium on lithium brine extraction” but only on extraction by the extravagant evaporation method in the dry Puna de Atacama in South America.

Like General Motors, Ford and others, we support accelerating the shift to electric vehicles and away from fossil fuels leading to the climate crisis. We called for research and investment in responsible supplies of critical minerals such as lithium and the efficient use of these minerals by, for example, building and recycling long-life batteries in ways that reduce waste. But we insist on responsible extraction practices that do not put unnecessary scarce water resources, wildlife and communities at risk.

The good news is that the same mining industry that abandoned the Pebble mine is working to find critical minerals through more sustainable practices. As we move into the future with clean energy, there is absolutely no room for a uniquely destructive project like the Pebble mine.

When ideology or ignorance replaces facts, bad things happen– whether the topic is climate change, weapons of attack, election results or something else. Deadly storms are multiplying, sea levels are rising, children are dying, democracy is failing and nature is disappearing. Like The Wall Street Journal recently proven, extraction can also be an example where reality and science are subordinated to ideological rhetoric.

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