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How sockeye makes Republicans want the EPA

August 18, 2014

Salon writes on the special nature of Bristol Bay, and the threat to it from the proposed Pebble Mine. It quotes Rich Halford, a former Alaska state legislator and staunch Republican:

If you see a filet of wild Alaska salmon in your supermarket, it’s almost definitely sockeye, and it likely came from Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay accounts for nearly half the sockeye on earth. … How did it get this way? It’s because sockeye are different. They are the only species of salmon that spawn in lakes instead of streams. And they are very sensitive to water quality. So what they need is a diverse system of super-clean lakes that feed into a body of water with a robust food supply, so they can fatten up in the years they’re at sea before returning.

That fishery brings $1.5 billion to Alaska, and supports 14,000 jobs. Halford is a Republican. One who now desperately needs one of federal agencies Republicans most despise: “the EPA came to Bristol Bay, invited not by the hated outside environmentalists but by natives, fishermen, small businesses and other locals who consider all of those things that make them special under attack by mining interests and their own state government.” The article describes how the state’s politicians worked hand-in-hand with industry interests, one area’s residents and environmental concerns be damned.

Living in coastal Texas, that is a familiar tale to me. (Hat tip, Noemi.)

Update: The Bristol Bay Times had a recent opinion piece on this. 

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