Dirty Gold, Dug Dirt Deep

There are two wetlands-related Alaskan cases in the news right now with one being the controversial Supreme Court decision in Couer, Alaska resulting in a ruling that could allow mining activities in the Bristol Bay watershed, which is home to the sockeye salmon. The decision potentially affects a much larger mining project in Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska. With the speed of social networking sites, the ripple effects of this decision are international, potentially global, and supporters of the Bristol Bay fishery are coming in all shapes and sizes – even jewelry. At least six U.K. based jewelry companies and designers, including Tiffany’s & Co., have declared they won’t buy the so-called “dirty gold” from the Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. The pebble mine has not officially filed for a permit or decided yet whether it will dump waste into the Lower Slate Lake. (Its back-up plan involves filling area streams and wetlands and then putting the rock waste on top of the fill.)

Summary of the June 22, 2009 Supreme Court Decision in Couer Alaska, Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, et al. In  6-3 Clean Water Act ruling that could allow lakes and other waters to be more easily destroyed and polluted by mining and other polluting activities, the Supreme Court today upheld that an unprecedented agency permitting decision allowing the Couer Alaska mine company to avoid stringent permitting requirements and instead dump their waste directly into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake. For the summary and decision, go to: For a summary, go to: http://topics.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/07-984

For a related news story, go to: Court allows gold mine to dump waste in lake

Leading UK Jewelers Say *No* to Dirty Gold from Alaska Mine
Earthworks Press Release – April 14, 2009
Six prestigious UK jewelry retailers, including Tiffany’s & Co., and designers representing 260 stores pledged their support for Bristol Bay, Alaska, by announcing that they will not buy gold from Anglo American’s proposed “Pebble” mine, a massive open-pit operation being considered in the bay’s headwaters. The Bristol Bay watershed supports the world’s most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery, which is critical to the state’s economy and to the livelihoods of many Alaska Native communities. The UK is the largest consumer of Bristol Bay canned sockeye salmon. The threat to the Bristol Bay fishery has generated an unusual and diverse array of allies, including Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, over 140 sportfishing businesses, the Alaska Intertribal Council (a consortium of 231 Alaska Tribes), and numerous conservation groups.http://www.earthworksaction.org/PR_AK2UK.cfm

More links to information about the Pebble Mine and Pebble Partnership in Alaska:

For NPCA press release, Report Finds Lake Clark National Park in Pristine Condition, Resources Threatened by Mining, go to:http://www.npca.org/media_center/press_releases/2009/lake_clark_report_071409.htmlFor the full report on Lake Clark National Park & Preserve in Alaska, go to:http://www.npca.org/stateoftheparks/lake_clark/

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