Public Perceptions of the Proposed Pebble Mine

Yesterday, a group of stakeholders met in D.C. to oppose to the development of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, calling on the recently released EPA assessment. This group consisted of members of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), commercial fishermen, business owners, and concerned citizens. They drew upon scientific and legal data in their argument but they also brought up local opinions. I believe that these perceptions are the most telling because ultimately the mine will need public support to survive. The majority of affected parties oppose the mine, as seen in the results from several polls.

pie chart

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The people of the Bristol Bay area place great importance on the local environment; the area provides food and jobs through fishing and it is also a sacred place to various Native Alaskan tribes. The mine will most likely affect the wild salmon populations, and as a result interrupt a complex food web, and it will also alter the beauty of the area. Opponents of the mine have used these facts to personally connect with people to rally people against the mine, as seen in the NRDC video by activist Robert Redford posted below. This short clip places much more emphasis on the human implications of the mine within the context of ecological destruction, making the mine more relatable to people who may not know much about the proposed development.

There are many stakeholders involved in this conflict and it is important that everyone has access to information and the ability to make their voices heard. The polls summarized in this article show that the people of Alaska have a definite perspective- the challenge is now balancing scientific findings, economic benefits, and public interest.


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