What’s Athens Got Do with Alaska?

Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA). He represents Georgia’s 10th Congressional District from Athens, Georgia and chairs the House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight which is looking into the EPA’s watershed assessment of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska’s headwaters. Pebble Mine would harvest deposits of gold, copper and molybdenum from an open pit. The Anchorage Daily News reports in a recent article, Congressman scolds EPA on its Bristol Bay assessment, that Congressman Broun questioned the intent of the assessment in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "I am troubled by EPA's vagueness in explaining the purpose of the (assessment) particularly since it appears as though the agency is positioning itself to use the document in any manner it sees fit in the future," Broun said in the letter. The EPA was asked by Bristol Bay region residents to conduct the assessment but Broun states that the agency should wait until a mine application is submitted.

Athens’ Oconee River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) is upset. The Chapter’s December 2012 Fly Paper newsletter writes that a member approached Congressman Broun about Bristol Bay and was told that the EPA is breaking the law by studying Bristol Bay and mining. Now Oconee River TU is asking members and constituents to write their Congressman a letter in support of the Bristol Bay assessment. Oconee River TU President Doug Brown writes, “There is much at stake for coldwater fisheries both here in Georgia and in Alaska and the conservationist-angler’s voice should be heard.”

Recognizing Bristol Bay as “one of the most pristine hunting and fishing grounds remaining in the United States”, Georgia TU Council Chairman Mack Martin urged Congressman Broun to “consider the voices of other hunters and anglers across the country as you continue to oversee EPA’s assessment process.” Martin concluded his October 2012 letter stating, “…we share your goal that policy decisions should be made with the best available science.  While we support further transparency behind any process that could impact resource development, our members across Georgia and in your district recognize the unique and undisturbed nature of Bristol Bay, and wish to see it maintained for future generations… We hope that as this process continues to unfold, you will join us in supporting what science dictates is the appropriate prescription for the region.”

No Pebble MineTrout Unlimited believes that the world’s largest wild salmon fishery and one of North America’s largest open pit mines cannot coexist. Chris Wood, TU President and CEO, has called on the President “to stand up for sportsmen and protect this fishery.” A TU press release notes that the EPA assessment concludes:

  • Bristol Bay's wild salmon fishery and other natural resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually.
  • The average annual run of sockeye salmon is about 37.5 million fish.
  • Even at its minimum size, Pebble Mine would eliminate or block 55 to 87 miles of salmon streams and at least 2500 acres of wetlands — key habitat for sockeye and other fishes.
  • EPA evaluated four types of large-scale mine failures, and found that even though precise estimates of failure probabilities cannot be made, evidence from other large mines suggest that "at least one or more accidents of failures could occur, potentially resulting in immediate, severe impacts on salmon and detrimental, long-term impacts on salmon habitat."

Congressman Broun is a Trout Unlimited Life Member and member of his local Chapter - Oconee River Trout Unlimited.

See you on the stream.

Kevin McGrath is Georgia Trout Unlimited's Advocacy Chairman.

This post first appeared in Georgia TU's blog - Peach State Trout.


said on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


Wow I just saw this.  I cannot that the GA TU enough.




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