Groups opposed to Alaska's proposed Pebble mine press presidential candidates

WASHINGTON -- Several dozen fishing, hunting and outdoors organizations and companies opposed to the proposed Pebble gold mine in Alaska are hoping to get presidential candidates on the record about it.

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Trout Unlimited, Patagonia Inc. and others sent a letter to each of the remaining presidential hopefuls on Thursday, asking them whether the open-pit mine in the salmon-rich Bristol Bay watershed should be allowed to go forward.

Representatives for the group noted that final action on the project will likely be in the hands of whomever is next in the White House, pointing to a recent statement by the Obama administration's regional director for the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We expect to know where the next president stands on this issue, and we want to know now, not after they're in the White House," said Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

In its letter, the group said that "Native tribes, commercial fishermen, anglers and hunters, conservationists, religious groups, restaurateurs and outdoor enthusiasts" from all 50 states have expressed interest in stopping the mine proposal.

"Where do you stand?" the letter asks the candidates.

The Pebble Limited Partnership argues that its mine can be built without harming the environment, and it has been fighting opposing efforts in court for years, with a particular aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has made moves to keep the project from acquiring a necessary federal permit.


Alaska Dispatch News contacted all of the presidential campaigns for a response to the letter.

Hillary Clinton's campaign said Thursday that she supports blocking the mine.

"Like President Obama, who protected Bristol Bay itself from consideration for oil and gas drilling, Hillary Clinton recognizes the incredible economic, cultural, and environmental value that Bristol Bay's fishery and watershed provide to Alaska and the nation, and she agrees with the need to protect both the fishery and watershed from harmful mining activity," spokeswoman Gwen Rocco said in an email.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.