21 May 2012:
Pebble Mine Could Devastate
Critical Alaskan Salmon Habitat, EPA Says
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that the proposed large-scale Pebble Mine development in the hills above Alaska’s Bristol Bay could cause devastating habitat loss
for the world’s
largest sockeye salmon fishery. In a draft report
, EPA officials calculate that proposals to mine the region — which include an open-pit mine producing 2 billion to 6.5 billion metric tons of copper, gold, and molybdenum ore — could destroy up to 87 miles of streams and nearly seven square miles of wetlands. The EPA also said that large-scale mining operations could make the region vulnerable to catastrophic accidents — including the possible release of acid, metals, and other waste from the mine sites — that could potentially destroy more than 30 miles of salmon-bearing streams leading into Bristol Bay, which hosts runs of roughly 30 million salmon annually
. “We conclude that, at a minimum, mining at this scale would cause the loss of spawning and rearing habitat for multiple species of anadromous and resident fish,” the draft assessment states. Even before its release, the 339-page assessment was denounced by critics, including some in Congress who question the EPA’s authority to regulate the mine proposal.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
A 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner captures stunning images of wild salmon runs in Alaska. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.