Alaskans vote to restrict Bristol Bay mining

November 5, 2014

A ballot measure in Alaska that adds another layer of oversight in the Bristol Bay Region passed on Nov. 4.

Ballot Measure 4, which would enable the Alaska Legislature to ban proposed mining in the Bristol Bay watershed if lawmakers believe the project would endanger wild salmon stocks, passed with 65 percent of votes in favor, to 35 percent opposed, the Alaska Dispatch reported.

Currently, only state and federal agencies decide on mining permits.

The measure adds another layer of oversight for the proposed Pebble mine. The mine site is near several Bristol Bay salmon streams that produce some of the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world.

In 2008, Alaska voters rejected an outright ban on large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region. The Alaska Clean Water Initiative failed to pass with 43 percent of the vote.

The initiative states that, in addition to permits and other authorizations required by law, a final authorization would be needed from the Legislature for any large-scale mining operation within the watershed of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve, The Associated Press reported.

That authorization would come in the form of a law finding the operation would not constitute a danger to the region's world-class salmon fishery.
 

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