For $20 million, two environmental nonprofits bought three conservation easements to permanently prohibit economic development on lands and waters around Bristol Bay in Southern Alaska. This will prevent the development of a mine producing minerals necessary for green energy technologies.
According to a Thursday press release, the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and Conservation Fund purchases will place over 44,000 acres of land off limits. This would stop Pebble Mine’s owners from building a road to transport minerals. The purchase would be made after the Pedro Bay Corporation, an Alaska Native group voted to allow the nonprofits to buy the easements. Pebble Mine is home to 80.6 billion pounds copper and 5.6 million pounds molybdenum. These highly conductive metals are essential for manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines, and building geothermal energy facilities.
In a statement to Daily Caller News Foundation, Larry Seltzer, President of Conservation Fund stated that mining is an economically valuable activity that provides benefits for society that cannot be derived in other ways. “But, not all projects should get approved. The Pebble Mine is wrong in the wrong location – high up in the watershed that supports wild salmon’s greatest strength in the world.
According to a White House factsheet, President Joe Biden would like to see all electricity generated by solar energy, wind power, and other forms of “clean energy” by 2035. This is an increase from the current 40%. The Biden administration has been known to oppose large mining projects in Arizona and Minnesota, citing environmental concerns.
“We respect the right of Alaska Native Corporation shareholders to decide what happens on their land and hope that the Biden administration will do so for other Alaska Native Corporation shareholders who may have different views about what they would prefer to do on the lands of their lands, particularly regarding the Pebble Project,” Mike Heatwole spoke for Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Pebble Project owner, to the DCNF.
A portion of the mine’s northern transportation route is covered by easements. They prohibit the execution and development of any right-of way agreements necessary to build an industrial road on Pedro Bay Corporation land. According to the corporation’s website, the Pedro Bay Corporation Board of Directors determined that the Pebble Mine doesn’t meet its “responsible developmental standards” because of the “unquantifiable effects” it and its road could have on communities and the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Dec. 2, recommended that Pebble Mine operators be prohibited from disposing of any waste material in Bristol Bay. This regulation would stop the mine’s opening. The EPA claimed that mining waste would harm the bay’s sockeye salmon populations. However, the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that there was no evidence that the mine could have a measurable impact on the fish population or cause long-term damage to the health of commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay. This conclusion was published in July 2020.
The U.S. reportedly mined 48,000 metric tonnes of molybdenum in 2021, compared with the 130,000 metric ton mined in China. In addition, it mined 1.2million metric tons copper, which is less than China Chile Peru and the Congo.
The DCNF did not receive a response from the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and the Pedro Bay Corporation immediately.