Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its decision to deny a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, ending a years-long battle to protect a pristine wilderness and ecosystem—as well as 14,000 American jobs and fishing industries worth $1.5 billion annually. The decision effectively stops the project in its tracks and represents a tremendous victory for the coalition of anglers, hunters, indigenous peoples, commercial fishermen, and environmentalists who have been fighting to protect the world’s last great wild-salmon run and the countless populations of animals, fish, and birds that depend on it. It’s time to pop the corks on a few bottle of Champaign to savor this moment, which represents a win for everyone who values untouched wilderness
“Thank you to all who came together and made their voices heard to keep one of the world’s great watersheds pristine. Today, Bristol Bay, AK is one step closer to being a protected American treasure that sustains local communities and industries and that outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy and experience for generations to come.” Orvis President Simon Perkins
Teamwork Pays Off
For more than a decade, Orvis has teamed with Trout Unlimited and many other groups to oppose the proposed open-pit mine situated at the headwaters of an incredible watershed that supports huge annual runs of sockeye salmon. In 2020, more than 52 million sockeyes entered the system to spawn, supporting both commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as a traditional way of life for the area’s indigenous peoples. Through matching-grant campaigns, we teamed with our customers to raise money to support anti-Pebble activities; we used our catalogs, stores, and social-media accounts to raise awareness; we took out full-page ads in major newspapers; we lobbied lawmakers in Washington, DC; and we did whatever else we could to help bring others into the fight. The next big goal will be to achieve permanent protection, such as designation as a Wilderness Area.
There is no way that we could have sustained this effort or achieved this victory without the continued support of Orvis customers, who gave their money, their time, and their voices to the cause. Our matching-grants program raised $77,000 for Pebble last year alone; Orvis customers have signed petitions and sent emails, texts, and letters to lawmakers; and they have stood with us even when it seemed as though the fight was lost. The Orvis commitment to what we love is a foundation of our brand, which is why the company dedicates 5% of pre-tax profits to conservation efforts. We thank you for sharing our values and our desire to protect nature and for your willingness to use your voices when called upon. As our CEO Perk Perkins says, ““If we are going to benefit from our natural resources, we must be willing to take action to protect them.”
As we celebrate this victory for the environment and for our children’s futures, it’s important to note that this may not be the end of the story, however. The Canadian mining company behind the Pebble Project could regroup and start the permitting process over again–at which point we shall heed King Henry’s famous call: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”
As always, we will continue to keep you updated on the Pebble Mine story, and if this monster rears its ugly head again, we will be ready.
Here’s the text of the statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District issued a record of decision that denies the Pebble Limited Partnership’s permit application to develop a copper-molybdenum-gold mine in southwest Alaska under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
This decision on the proposed Pebble Project culminates a review process that lasted nearly three years and involved the development of an environmental impact statement. That assessment included an in-depth analysis of project alternatives along with an examination of supplemental technical information provided by cooperating agencies and the public. In its record of decision, USACE determined that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest.
This action is based on all available facts and complies with existing laws and regulations. It reflects a regulatory process that is fair, flexible and balanced. USACE is committed to maintaining and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development.
We strived for transparency, collaboration, accuracy and expediency throughout the decision-making process. We truly value and appreciate the contributions of everyone who engaged in this endeavor. Now, I’m proud to say that we delivered on our promise to conduct a thorough review and make a timely permit decision.