We heard lots of powerful testimony at the EPA hearings this summer. Hundreds of Alaskans spoke up to share with the EPA why they do not support mines like Pebble in Bristol Bay.
We created this video with some pieces of testimony, but there is so much more we wanted to share with you. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be featuring testimony from a number of Alaskan voices on what saving Bristol Bay means to them.
Norman Van Vactor, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.
"My name is Norman Van Vactor, and I'm proud to call Dillingham and Bristol Bay my home. I'm the CEO and president of BBEDC, but tonight I come here representing these folks [holds up salmon image]. They're swimming about a quarter mile away from here. In the middle of August we still have thousands of fish going by, as we speak. Bristol Bay is about salmon and one of the few fisheries of its kind remaining in the world. Throughout the years I have witnessed the immense economic engine that is generated from the annual salmon run swimming into our area. More recently I've witnessed and welcomed the positive role that EPA has played in helping to protect Alaska's economic and cultural resource. This only after communities and tribal organizations called out for your help, the very same call that went unheeded by our current state leaders. Bristol Bay alone boasts the most valuable and largest salmon fishery remaining in the world – and yes, I say the world - typically supplying almost half of the world's wild sockeye.
Summer after summer millions of sockeye return home to Bristol Bay with no construction, exploration or impact management needed. We could use more jobs, yes, just not Pebble Mine jobs. We cannot afford the risk. Pebble Partnership promises they could build a mine that would not harm salmon. To many this seems disingenuous, especially in light of the recent tailings dam failure at Mount Polley. The catastrophic breach, releasing toxic tailings, has poisoned the water in their region. Clearly, fish and fishing communities lose when toxic tailings are involved. Imagine, if Pebble were allowed to be built at the proposed site and scope and when the waters would become affected, as they certainly will, envision the day Pebble operators pack up and leave. They will have extracted a mineral for their coffers while burying and flooding the land behind a 700-foot dam. They would have destroyed our salmon run, the last of its magnitude in the world. Such is a picture I cannot bear to consider. We are honored that you have come to look and hear from the hard-working people that love Alaska salmon."