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Letter: Against mines in Alaska

Dear Editor,

Foreign mining companies including two of the world's most powerful, Britain's Anglo American and Rio Tinto, are planning to dig Peggy Mine, one of the largest open-pit mines at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Colossal earthen dams up to 50 stories high built in a known earthquake zone are supposed to hold back some ten billion tons of mining waste mixed with cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic and other toxic chemicals. Anglo American's history is littered with one toxic disaster after another and Rio Tinto has left a trail of pollution and destruction that spans the globe.

The world's largest salmon streams run through this paradise, with tens of millions of salmon supporting not just an abundance of bears, whales, seals and eagles. Bristol Bay is home to orcas, the last 280 beluga whales that cling to life there, wild moose and caribou, one of only two populations of freshwater harbor seals in the world, and river otters, wolverines, porcupines, red fox and mink.

The environmental richest of Bristol Bay generate over $400 million in fishing revenue every year and support more than 10,000 jobs for Alaska's working families. The salmon runs are also critical to the way of life of Alaska's native communities who have thrived there for thousands of years.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the Pebble Mine would post "catastrophic" risks to Bristol Bay. The Natural Resources Defense Council is taking this fight to the media, foreign capitals and to federal courts if necessary.

Tiffany & Co. isn't buying that the mine could ever be safe. Tiffany and more than 60 other jewelers have pledged not to use gold from the proposed Pebble Mine. I am outraged at what this colossal mine could do to the wildlife and people of Bristol Bay. You couldn't pick a worse place to dig a gold and copper mega-mine.