More than 50 investment groups — representing $105 billion — are calling on Congress and the EPA to prohibit large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay area, which would impact the future of Pebble Mine, an open-pit gold and copper project proposed by Northern Dynasty Minerals.
The letter asks Congress to permanently protect the Bristol Bay watershed by deeming it a federal National Fisheries Area and noting its significance as the world’s largest fishery of wild sockeye salmon.
The letter states that “Alaska’s Bristol Bay supports the largest and most productive wild salmon fishery on Earth, supplying half of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon,” estimated at “$2.2 billion in annual revenue, 15,000 jobs, and sustaining Alaska Native communities that have relied on the salmon for millennia.”
Northern Dynasty Minerals of Canada disclosed that it sent a letter in April to EPA administrator Michael Regan, providing a status update on the Alaska Pebble Project and “urging the new administrator to support a full and fair process for the project.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier agreed to reconsider its decision denying a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine. The agency accepted an appeal application from Pebble Limited Partnership. The agency agreed that the application met the terms for an administrative appeal.
Mining Technology, a digital news and analysis service, reported in December 2020 on the proposed Pebble Mine project, noting controversy with environmental groups and fishermen on permitting and allowing the project to move forward.
“The wider discussion around the mine’s permitting has drawn opinions from across Alaska and the U.S., taking in environmental activists, recreational anglers” and political leaders from both parties, the news service reported.
The April 7 investors’ letter to Congress and the EPA was posted on the Trillium Asset Management website. It calls on the EPA to restrict mine waste disposal within the watershed through its authority under the Clean Water Act and to permanently protect the watershed.
“It is in our interest for our portfolio companies to reduce these risks and to recognize the important role of environmental and social impacts. We therefore believe it is critically important for mining activity to not occur in ecologically and culturally inappropriate areas,” the letter states.
Investment funds that signed the letter included several religion-based groups and investment fund managers with social and environmental missions. Among more than 50 investment groups signing the letter are:
• Adasina Social Capital, which describes itself as a bridge for connecting financial markets with social justice movements;
• Boston Common Asset Management, “a leader in global sustainability initiatives”;
• Congregation of St. Joseph, which describes itself as a socially responsible investment program; and
• Sierra Club Foundation, whose “strategy is to achieve superior long-term performance in mission-aligned investments” focused on the environment.
The letter states that Alaska Native tribes, the Bristol Bay Native Corp., Native village corporations, the United Fishermen of Alaska and other commercial and sport fishing groups have “urged the EPA to exercise its authority over mine waste disposal in the Bristol Bay watershed.”
The Orvis Company, Trout Unlimited, Katmai Service Providers and hundreds of other sporting businesses and organizations have raised concerns about impacts of mining on Bristol Bay’s fisheries and its $1.6 billion fishing industry.
Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.