Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rio Tinto, Wal-Mart, Mining, Salmon, Sanity - Stop Killing Bristol Bay's Salmon's Future

Good news that the Pebble Mine lie is still able to be broadcast in national media outlets, most recently by National Resources Defense Council through Robert Redford in the NYT.

We've had the film, Red Gold, shown in Spokane, and the filmmakers have been on my radio show, Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge. This is a compelling film, deep and creative on many levels, looking at mining versus cultural and ecological rights.

Check out the Robert Redford Op-ed, and the film:

Colorado Filmmakers Travis Rummel and Ben Knight of Felt Soul Media
teamed up with Trout Unlimited Alaska’s Lauren Oakes to produce Red Gold. With the support of many locals in Bristol Bay, the crew of three spent 10 weeks in the field during the summer of 2007, gathering footage for film and interviewing people for and against the mine. Trout Unlimited is North America’s largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization with programs based around the nation. The Alaska program is deeply engaged in the campaign to protect the world-renowned fisheries in this watershed.

From NRDC --

In a full-page New York Times ad paid for by our Members, NRDC Trustee Robert Redford called national attention to the Pebble Mine as "an environmental tragedy waiting to happen" and urged Americans to express their opposition to the Rio Tinto and Anglo American corporations. Meanwhile, in London, a full-page ad placed in the Financial Times by NRDC and our Alaskan coalition partners challenged Rio Tinto, which has a well-documented record of pollution disasters, to deliver on its new green rhetoric by abandoning its stake in the Pebble Mine.

The mine, two miles wide and 2,000 feet deep, would be gouged out of wilderness above Bristol Bay, at the headwaters of the greatest sockeye salmon runs in the world. Millions of salmon are the linchpin of an ecosystem -- filled with bears, moose, caribou, wolves and whales -- that has sustained Native communities for thousands of years. The gargantuan gold and copper operation would produce an estimated ten billion tons of contaminated mining waste that would have to be held back forever by massive earthen dams, some taller than China's Three Gorges Dam, in an active earthquake zone. The mine is opposed by 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents, including a broad-based coalition of Native villages, fishermen, sportsmen and businesses.

At the shareholder meeting in London, Rio Tinto's board heard testimony against the mine from NRDC Senior Attorney Joel Reynolds and from Kimberly Williams, executive director of Nunumta Aulukestai, an association of nine Native village corporations. "There was speaker after speaker on behalf of communities around the globe, calling on Rio Tinto to remedy a long list of mining ventures gone bad," says Reynolds. "We're determined to spare Bristol Bay that kind of devastation by making sure this mine never gets built."

There was good news for the campaign in February, when Mitsubishi, one of the major backers of the Pebble Mine, withdrew from the project. Less than one year ago, NRDC met with Mitsubishi executives in Tokyo and delivered to them 100,000 Petitions of Protest from our Members and activists. Now we're calling on Anglo American and Rio Tinto to follow suit by abandoning this misguided venture.

Check out an action letter here:

Your message will be sent to:

Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, Anglo American Corporation

Subject line:

Leave Bristol Bay and its belugas alone

Dear Chief Executive Carroll,

As you know, the United States government recently designated more than 3,000 square miles of Alaska's Cook Inlet as critical habitat for a genetically unique and geographically isolated population of endangered beluga whales. The last thing these whales need is more industrialization of their favorite waters.

Therefore, I am adamantly opposed to your plans for the Pebble Mine, which call for the construction of a marine terminal, slurry pipelines and roads in or around Cook Inlet. We will not tolerate the potential destruction of an endangered species' critical habitat for the sake of corporate profits.

Furthermore, your mine would also threaten the beluga population of Bristol Bay, which depends heavily on the area's abundant salmon runs. It would be unconscionable to build a mega-mine -- with colossal dams that must hold back an estimated 10 billion tons of mining waste forever -- at the headwaters of our planet's greatest wild salmon river systems.

Some risks are simply too big to take -- especially in an active earthquake zone like Bristol Bay. I am familiar with your company's long and dismal record of polluting the environment. I don't want you gambling with one of our last and greatest wild places -- an ecosystem that supports Native communities, thriving fisheries, and a vast array of spectacular wildlife, including important populations of beluga whales.

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