Sen. Cantwell: Washington’s Fish Are More Important Than Jobs For Alaskans

Senator Maria Cantewll (D-WA) is asking the EPA to kill a large mining project because there is a slight possibility that it could affect salmon in her state. Sen. Cantwell’s fish are more important than creating all of the jobs that would go with mining one of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits. From the Alaska Daily News:

Congress members now dueling over Pebble prospect
MINE: Washington’s Cantwell fears for salmon; Alaska’s Young sees jobs.

WASHINGTON — In a high-stakes battle that pits gold and copper against fish, members of Congress are scrapping over a plan to build one of the world’s largest open pit mines in southwest Alaska.

Fearing that toxic wastes from the mine could hurt the wild salmon population in her home state, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell intends to enter the fray today. She plans to ask the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to consider using the Clean Water Act — if necessary — to stop the proposed Pebble Mine project in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

Cantwell, a second-term senator and a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will become the first senator to issue such a call. She’ll face opposition from Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, who already has introduced a bill that would strip the EPA of its authority to halt the project.

The Pebble Mine, which is not even proposed yet, will require permits from at least 67 state and federal agencies according to the site owners, yet Sen. Cantwell wants the project spiked before any environmental review is even done.

While unemployment is still above 9% nationally, it’s much higher in Alaska. In 2010 the unemployment rate among Alaska Native Americans was 21.3%, and it has probably not got any better since. Sen. Cantwell isn’t worried about creating jobs for unemployed Alaskans in the natural resource extraction industries; she’s worried about thousands of Washingtonians who make their living extracting another of Alaska’s resources, salmon. The breeding grounds for salmon that Washington fishermen catch there and in Washington are in Bristol Bay, Alaska, over 100 miles from the Pebble Mine site.

Sen. Cantwell and her environmentalist buddies, rather than using their standard practice of using the environmental review process to try and delay a new mining project, in this case want to preempt the environmental process they so love.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has commented on the Pebble/Cantwell situation:

“Attempts to prejudge development in the Bristol Bay area before a permit application has even been submitted would make a mockery out of the federal environmental review process. A preemptive veto makes no more sense than a preemptive approval.”

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that Sen. Cantwell and her buddies know that the science and facts won’t be on their side, so they’re attempting a time-honored Democratic tradition of moving the goalposts.

Those opposing Maria Cantwell ask that you sign their Twitter petition at, or if you tweet about this, use the hash tag #GivePebbleAChance. Beth Shaw has more contact information for Sen. Cantwell and is urging folks to contact her office.

"The national mood has darkened"