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 http://act.ly/486, 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"
Disturbing
  • Sen. Cantwell isn’t trying to move the goal posts. Instead, she is trying to eliminate the goal posts. She wants the EPA to assume what has yet to be proven.

    [By the way, the moving of goal posts is not exclusively a Democrat act.  Democrats just practice it more often.]

  • Anonymous

    Enviro’s always have “theories”.  Wish the judge in the snail darter fiasco had ruled “Hey, you guys delayed the project for 10 years.  Congratulations!  Construction costs tripled in that time.  Your “theories” were proven wrong by real world results.  Congratulations!  You’re organizations are now on the hook to reimburse the taxpayers for the increased costs.  Oh, and have a nice day!”

  • Anonymous

    Yet more proof that the environmentalist lobby will happily return us to the stone age if they could.
    At one time, their crusade was noble. Now they’re completely out of control.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like one of the brainless wonders that represent Washington state in the Senate.

  • Bob Armstrong

    >>”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.”

    A “slight” possibility?

    I read that article forward and back – no mention of the word slight, or small, or minor anywhere in the article in connection with the risk.

    I wonder how this writer determined the risk was “slight”  — could we see you credentials on the subject of toxic waste in fisheries, please?

    • Anonymous

      Speaking of brainless wonders…

      • Bob Armstrong

        I wouldn’t call the author “brainless” —

        Clearly, if the risk was “severe” we wouldn’t be talking about this. The whole premise of “unreasonableness” hinges on the determination that the risk was “slight”….

        and yet, thinking adults have to ask — how do we know the risk is “slight”. How was the risk determined to be “slight”?

        Apparently the author just made it up – characterizing the risk as “slight” because that was what he wanted to believe.

        All I’m asking is that he share the information he used to determine the risk is slight.

        Apparently he can’t – which seems to suggest he’s lying.

        • Anonymous

          Somehow, I doubt that you associate with “thinking adults”.

          • Only the ones who pee in his alley.

    • retired.military

      Just as soon as we can see your credentials for all the bullshit you spout.

    • jim_m

      Cantwell is asking to have the project killed before a review is even done. You cannot say officially how much damage might be done because no data had been made available.

      Cantwell wants to kill the project on the pure supposition that it will be bad without having to actually prove any potential harm. My guess is that she knows that they cannot prove the harm so the best shot is a preemptive strike.

      • Curious that Republican Senator Ted Stevens who fought consistently was opposed to the Pebble Mine. He said he would stall it and stop it. He was a long way from a greenie.

    • It isn’t about the salmon in her state at all. It is about the 1000+ residents (Including many of the crabbers on Deadliest Catch) who live in Washington state but fish in Alaska. They hold fishing permits for Alaska waters. They are concerned. Also, the fish processor plants are headquartered in Seattle Washington. The industry is huge for support of those fishing boats in boat yards and gear shops. Senator Cantwell isn’t against Pebble Mine because of Washington Salmon, but because of the risk to the Salmon of Bristol Bay. The industry in that one are provides 17,000 jobs and over half of the nations salmon supply.

  • Washington State still resents that Alaska wasn’t simply awarded to them as a colony.

  • Anonymous

    I have a novel idea.  Why don’t we follow due process here and make her prove her case.  Isn’t that the American way Senator Cantwell?  

    • Anonymous

      Yes, of course unless she is not really American.

  • Anonymous

    Channeling Bob and his friends:

    First we have to take down all those nasty dams (and protect the poor sea lions lining the fish ladders) on the Columbia and elsewhere.  Then we tell South Carolina they can’t have a new factory, and THEN we can tell Alaskans where they can and can’t exploit their natural resources.  Why can’t she get her priorities straight?

  • We’ve decimated a huge swath of California farmland for darters, a half inch fish of no particular ecological importance which may or may not be “endangered” (in the past, similar species have often turned up in undiscovered populations), so why do we suppose Obama’s rogue EPA won’t decide any chance of disrupting salmon’s harmonic vibrations could make them lose their bliss and it’s worth shutting down mining to prevent?

    These people seem determined to drive us back to the Stone Age in pursuit of some naive and fanciful dream of a pure State of Nature.  They don’t get that we HAD that before; life was nasty, brutish, and short, and once they get us back there and can’t get a cell signal, they’ll finally understand.

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  • Anonymous

    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

    There’s the problem right there. 67 agencies???

    • Anonymous

      Good point.

      With the liberal “regulations gone wild” it’s a wonder anything gets done.
      Then again, looking at the economy and jobs reports, nothing is getting done, except for
      income redistribution.

  • W

    I hate to stand up for a Democrat but the salmon industry in Washington is a major industry. Being extra cautious about something that could hurt that industry is understandable.  However I suspect like many Democrats do, she is probably being overcautious.

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  • Your entire premiss is misleading. It isn’t about the salmon in her state at all. It is about the 1000+
    residents (Including many of the crabbers on Deadliest Catch) who live
    in Washington state but fish in Alaska. They hold fishing permits for
    Alaska waters. They are concerned. Also, the fish processor plants are
    headquartered in Seattle Washington. The industry is huge for support of
    those fishing boats in boat yards and gear shops. Senator Cantwell
    isn’t against Pebble Mine because of Washington Salmon, but because of
    the risk to the Salmon of Bristol Bay. The industry in that one are
    provides 17,000 jobs and over half of the nations salmon supply.

  • Anonymous

    Pebble is designed almost entirely to supply China with raw materials – particularly copper – and in fact it’s more than probable that China will eventually take a direct financial ownership in the Pebble project (once the permitting has been completed). I posted the following comment on other web sites back in July:

    Not opposed to mining generally or to mining in Alaska, but it’s
    important to note that the ultimate destination of the extracted
    Bristol Bay copper will be China, not the USA.

    It
    doesn’t take much thinking to realize that this mine will simply be
    another raw materials resource for China, just as Peru, Chile, and
    Zambia currently are. In this case it will be done through The Pebble
    Partnership (aka Bristol Bay) which is jointly owned by Anglo American
    plc (Brit), Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (Canada), and Rio Tinto plc
    (Brit). Northern Dynasty currently owns 40 percent of the project and
    Rio Tinto 10 percent, Anglo American the other 50 percent. However,
    Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen in April stated that its entire
    interest could be sold to Rio Tinto or to “an Asian metals
    trading-slash-smelting company, like a Mitsubishi, Mitsui or Sumitomo,
    or even one of the Chinese groups.”

    http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=49362683

    In
    either case (be it Rio Tinto or “one of the Chinese groups”), the
    Pebble (Bristol Bay) copper is going to China, not to the USA.

    Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese stated in Shanghai last year:

    “China
    is important to Rio Tinto in many ways, which is why we see the
    relationship as one between partners rather then simply supplier and
    customer. Yes, China is our biggest customer, but it is also … home of
    our largest shareholder, as well as the domicile of our major joint
    venture partners and 170 Rio Tinto employees.”

    http://www.riotinto.com/media/18435_presentations_19534.asp

    Nevermind
    the potential environmental impacts. Bristol Bay (Pebble) is at essence
    a scheme to supply China with raw copper, to the benefit of a couple
    Brit mining conglomerates and probably “even one of the Chinese groups”
    as CEO Ron Theissen mentioned above. There is very little benefit to the
    United States.