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Stop a mine from being built in Alaska’s Bristol Bay

40,960
Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to the Environmental Protection Agency

Action Ended On

September 6, 2022

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We're grateful for your support.

What was at Stake

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to some of the most abundant salmon populations found anywhere in the world, a $2 billion fishing industry, and Native communities that have thrived on this resource for millennia. However, for more than a decade, the threat of a huge, open-pit copper and gold mine has loomed over the heart of the irreplaceable Bristol Bay watershed. The project has been delayed because hundreds of thousands of supporters like you have been tenaciously pushing back on the project — and we need your help again to finally stop Pebble Mine from being built.

If Pebble Mine is built, it would be the largest, most destructive open-pit mine ever constructed in North America — with a mine pit that could be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Over its lifetime, the mine could generate 23 billion tons of dangerous mining waste, wiping out over 90 miles of salmon streams and more than 5,000 acres of intertwined wetlands, ponds and lakes. This destruction is possible because mining companies have blocked any meaningful changes to our mining laws and regulations for 150 years. Under current law, mining companies can destroy and pollute places like Bristol Bay without consequence to the detriment of the area’s ecosystems and communities that call it home.

Relying on two decades of scientific study, however, the EPA has recognized the permanent damage to the ecosystem if Pebble Mine is built. It has proposed crucial, yet limited steps to protect the watershed and the agency is asking you to review its plans and offer public comment.

Tell the EPA to listen to the needs of the people of Bristol Bay and offer strong, permanent protections to Bristol Bay’s headwaters – not just for the latest version of the Pebble Mine project, but for any large-scale hardrock mining.

Salmon in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Courtesy of Fish Eye Guy Photography

Salmon in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.