ENOUGH DOOM AND GLOOM

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle

I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the doom and gloom that Covid has gifted us, and I’m more than ready to move on despite the escalation of the pandemic.

I think we all need a dose of good news! Here it is…

GOOD NEWS #1

For those who are environmentally aware – or involved – or interested, hang on to your hats. The Army Corps of Engineers has at long last denied the application for a permit to operate the Pebble Mine, located in the pristine Bristol Bay of Alaska.

Exquisite Bristol Bay Saved

Earlier in 2020 the Corps denied the project as it was then planned and required a new mitigation plan. Most opponents to the dam worried that the Corps might buckle to the big money group wanting to create an open pit copper-magnesium mine. Most locals were gravely concerned about the impact of such a disastrous enterprise on the salmon run in the area, the world’s largest run. But salmon weren’t all that was at stake – other fisheries and numerous wildlife and the health of people in the area were also at extreme risk. The Corps finally agreed that “the mine would cause significant degradation and significant adverse effects to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay.” The icing on the cake for this decision may have come with the release of “The Pebble Tapes,” secretly recorded in a meeting and released to the Corps.

Over the years, literally thousands of people have petitioned and donated money to organizations fighting this catastrophic proposal. Ultimately it became clear that the Corps did not have confidence in the Pebble Mine plan to mitigate the damage that would be done to nearly 200 miles of streams, 4500 acres of impacted waters and wetlands. 

I think an important take-away of this decision is the fact that for once money  did not prevail and influence the final decision. Anymore this is breathtakingly rare.

GOOD NEWS #2

Dam Removal showing success already!

Another win for the environment is the removal of the dam on the Pilchuck River. The dam was removed in August, and already an increased number of salmon have been seen in the river. According to Matt Puley, a project coordinator, they’ve even seen chinook salmon navigating the river. 

Earlier in 2020 a dam was removed from the Nooksak River, and the Nelson Dam is scheduled to be removed in 2021. Other dams are being considered for removal too.

Elwha River Dam Removal. Photo by Seattle Times

Washington State is certainly not new to dam removal.The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were built in the early 1900s. Of course, the dams blocked salmon from migrating upstream to spawn and disrupted the flow of sediment. It also flooded homes and cultural sites. However, in 1992 Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, authorizing the removal of the Elwha Dam and then the Glines Canyon Dam.  The removal of the Elwha started in 2011 and was followed by the Glines Dam in 2014. Once again, the Elwha is a free-flowing river!

GOOD NEWS #3

And, not to be overlooked, according to the Capital Press, “Plans to remove four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California are back on track, with possible demolition happening in 2023. The removal of these dams will open about 400 miles of stream habitat for coho and steelhead, both threatened species. AND, if successful, “…it would be the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. History.

The agreement was negotiated and signed by the states of California and Oregon, PacifiCorp, KRRC and the Yirok and Karuk tribes. According to Governor Kate Brown, “We are taking an incredibly important step forward toward restorative justice for people of the Klamath River. The agreement is about far more than the removal of four dams. It is a stop toward righting historic injustices.

More importantly, Joseph James of the Yurok Trive said the project “is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people…we want to emphasize that the Yurok Tribe will never rest until the dams are out and the river is healed.”

GOOD NEWS #4

The Southern Resident Pod has two new babies that have joined their dwindling numbers. Perhaps there is yet hope for this REMARKABLE species to survive.

Why is all of this so important?

In the words of Chief Seattle:

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

Time to Decide: Money or Nature?

If developed, the Pebble Mine would produce 10 billion tons of mining waste that would threaten communities and ecosystems, and it would increase the climate crisis by emitting millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Recently (September 11)  an article appeared in the Google list of weird articles that definitely was an attention-getter for those concerned about the Rights of Nature, the environment, and species extinction.

The article was entitled, “U.S. must not let China stop Pebble Mine that has rare earths we need.”

The Pebble Mine has been under siege by the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council), Alaskan native groups, and environmental groups in general, and now China. The proposed mine site is in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

This long drawn-out legal battle basically is an attempt by NRDC, environmentalists, and native groups to stop the development of a mine that will completely devastate the Bristol Bay wilderness, renowned for salmon runs and wildlife as well as Native communities. It’s estimated that the planned toxic gold and copper mega-mine will produce billions of tons of mining waste and will have a devastating impact on the people, water, fisheries, and wildlife.

Photo by orvis.com

Despite pressure from President Trump’s administration, the pressure from the public and the NRDC proved to be too much for the Army Corps of Engineers, and they rejected the mining plan  because it posed “unavoidable adverse impacts” to the water and marine life of Bristol Bay, one of the nation’s last, truly wild places. (Despite the author claiming that Bristol Bay is a desolate location, plenty of photos say otherwise.)

Photo by glampinghub.com

However, the developers have 90 days to make changes…and they will. If developed, the Pebble Mine would produce 10 billion tons of mining waste that would threaten communities and ecosystems, and it would increase the climate crisis by emitting millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

So where does China come in? The Chinese are working in their own insidious, under-handed way to ensure that the Pebble Mine project does not move forward. Why? Currently, China has a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals, and it has been discovered that the Pebble Mine could produce minerals that are essential for the production of “many military and high tech items.”

The author of the Google article subtly implies his disdain for environmentalists who appear to be on the same team as those communist Chinese. He fails to recognize that the big losers in this ongoing mining drama are the American people, and fish, animals, and nature. Who wins: corporations greedy for the money they will make from the minerals that are essential for the production of many military and high tech items. Do we really need even more weapons of mass destruction and high tech items? Perhaps we would really benefit from more NATURE!

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A word about the NRDC. If you are environmentally inclined please consider membership in the NRDC. It is not expensive, and this organization takes on environmental destruction in the courtroom. They are very successful in stopping an inordinate amount of assaults on our environment, from the “Dirty Water Rule” to the effort to allow industrial take-over and pollution of our national parks and nature preserves by drilling, fracking, mining, and hunting.

Check out NRDC.org and learn more about their incredible efforts and victories in fighting against the industrial poisoning of people, animals, and nature.