Raving Conservative


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pebble Creek Mine

As a pro-business conservative and an honest, educated environmentalist I am expressing my opposition to the proposed Pebble Creek Mine in Alaska. This is both a pro-environment and pro-business position, though it is anti-mine. Here is how.

The mine is to be placed near Lake Iliamna, at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay Salmon fishery. It will drain the headwaters from Upper Talarik Creek and the Koktuli River, possibly drying these rivers, and at least drastically reducing the water volume they carry. These are all important salmon spawning and nursery habitats that would be negatively, possibly catastrophically affected by the drainage.

Mines use a lot of hazardous chemicals in the extraction and processing of ore, and they release a lot of hazardous chemicals from the Earth as a byproduct of mining. The hazard in this is demonstrated in numerous dead streams across America, as well as rivers and lakes where the fish are considered unsafe to eat due to heavy metal poisoning. By placing any metal mine at the headwaters of a delicate fish habitat it is possible to wipe out the entire salmon fishery and put many hardworking fisherman out of business. The damage done by these toxins could make the river uninhabitable to fish for decades.

A little mentioned fact regarding mining activities near rivers is the fine materials that go into the water and are considered non-hazardous rock. While these fine rock particles are 100% non-toxic they present a different problem. Natural silt is smooth, having been broken and worn down by natural processes. The fine particles produced by mining are sharp, and they literally shred the gills of fish, choking g them to death after enough damage has been done. The chance of these fine particles slashing the spawn rate of Bristol Bay Salmon is unacceptable. The probability of the fry and fingerlings being killed before they migrate to the ocean is also unacceptable.

The Bristol Bay salmon fishery is a vital Alaskan resource. It provides jobs, and it provides sustenance. The three ways that the proposed Pebble Creek Mine would damage this fishery would rob us all of this important resource. The risks are known, and they are unacceptable. The fact is that any one of these problems will damage and possibly destroy the local ecosystem. The fact is that all three will happen. There is no chance of these risks not happening. Every metal mine that I know of on a river has these problems.

It is also possible that the contamination of the river could affect the ocean fisheries I the nearby area as well. This makes the proposed Pebble Creek Mine even more unacceptable.

There are times when the environmental cost far outweighs the economic gain of human activity. These cases are all extreme cases with profound impacts on both man and wild. This is one of them.


  • Mining has historically been 'dig, dump and leave' down here in the states. It is (or can be) a much cleaner operation, although costs
    bear heavily. I agree with you that siting such an operation on
    a salmon spawning headwaters is cause for concern.

    By Blogger BB-Idaho, at 3:26 PM  

  • What? The usual liberal suspects have nothing to sayabout environmental concerns other than some overhyped, trumped-up highly falsified claim of global warming?

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 5:24 PM  

  • Well, I'm a 'usual liberal suspect'
    and have had some minor involvement with the tech aspects of mining. Your Pebble Creek summary was reasoned and fair, so
    unlike your history prof, I agreed and gave it an 'A'.

    By Blogger BB-Idaho, at 6:03 PM  

  • Good for you for being Conservative in the correct sense of the word. Personal responsibility ought to be for more than just the "welfare queens," right?

    Why you would make the leap from there to discrediting the notion that poisoning the air, water and ground may lead to negative results (as in dead zones in our oceans, toxified streams, polluted air, contaminated soil and, yes, possible global warming), I don't know.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 10:16 AM  

  • Dan T,

    When it comes to the environment I am very careful to seperate fact from fiction before I speak out. The field of environmentalism is full of people with more passion than brains, and more volume than facts. Between the onslaught of know-nothings who harp continuously about disasters that are unproven, disproven, or completely made-up, and the people who are complete naysayers no matter what the facts actually say one os forced to search carefully for reliable sources. I have a slight advantage in this because of my university environmental training that spans a broad spectrum of the field from HAZMAT, to disposal, remediation, geology, hydrology, meteorology, soils, and reclamation of dead and toxic zones in land and water.

    Every concern you mentioned concerns me enough that I have done researc into the problems. I have found facts and myths surrounding each. for example, after doing some math based on the facts I have found that mankind IS responsible for some global warming, but it is a mere 0.007 degrees celcius since the industrial revolution. In my opinion, massive government regulation, oppresive business and private practices, and hundreds of billions of dollars are not worth 0.007 degrees in over 100 years. That money and effort is far better spent preserving our overfished oceans, reclaiming brownfields sites, destroying hazardous waste (which is opposed by the know-nothing environmentalists), alternative energy research, medicine to eliminate cureable fatal diseases, and other much more attainable and impactful goals. I actualy write about this in the book I am working on.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 11:43 AM  

  • Mr. Levesque,

    Thank you for your insight on Pebble Mine. Your reasoning is very sound. I am a liberal/libertarian with conservative fiscal and environmental views. I believe in conservation of the environment and its natural resources. Not because trees have "spirits". But because trees and salmon are beneficial and must be carefully utilized and protected. Like a retirement account that must last a very long time, it would be foolish to spend it all in Vegas and then go into debt. It is only through the sound reasoning and cooperation of conservatives both right and left of the political center that our collective resources will be conserved. I thank you for your critical thinking.

    Matt Barnett

    By Blogger uplateinseattle, at 12:42 AM  

  • Good posting!!! I am amazed to read it and already bookmarked it to get new updates on your links. I was hoping if you can address me some Pebble Creek us profile, actually my friend looking for one. I have found some but more ideas always appreciated..

    Pebble Creek us profile

    By Anonymous Pebble Creek us profile, at 11:50 PM  

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