Those fighting to save Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine operation moved once step closer to victory last week – but mine supporters have vowed to go down swinging.
Opponents of the mine that threatens the priceless fisheries in Bristol Bay, Alaska – and the self-sustaining industries they support - were thrilled by the surprise EPA announcement it will invoke rarely used authority under the Clean Water Act to preemptively limit or stop the mine before the permit is filed because of its potential harmful impacts.
The action came just weeks after the EPA released a study showing the mine would be devastating to fisheries, the industries they support and the native cultures that depend on them.
The story went on to explain the states’ opposition.
“If this [cleanup] is left to stand,” they argued in their joint amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, “other watersheds, including the Mississippi River Basin, could be next.”
But that story had no legs. It was gone from the news cycle almost as quickly has it appeared.
The most powerful and effective anti-hunting movement in the United States is not PETA, or the Humane Society. It is not headquartered in any bustling metropolis; it has no representatives in Hollywood; it needs no beautiful, scantily clad women to promote its dark agenda.
The most powerful anti-hunting movement in the U.S. is the loss of access to places to hunt and shoot. Every Field & Stream reader over the age of 40 is familiar with the problem. Not so long ago, a place to hunt could be had for the price of politely asking a farmer or rancher for permission. Now the question is how much can you afford to pay to lease the hunting rights or be a part of a hunting club.
In an earlier life, when I covered sports that involved balls, a coach once told me “Momentum is a factor because the players think it is.”
You don’t need to be Aristotle to figure that one out. But the observation came to mind because there has certainly been a sudden, positive momentum to sportsmen’s concerns in Washington. And, just maybe, Congress is finally doing right by sportsmen because its members finally think it’s the right thing to do.
Just days after the two-year struggle to get the new Farm Bill enacted finally ended in victory, three more important bills for sportsmen have a stiff wind at their backs.
Of course that’s what sportsmen, hunting and fishing lodge owners, environmental groups, commercial fishermen, and Native American organizations have been saying in the long struggle to keep this tragedy from happening. One of Earth’s most productive and still pristine ecosystems would be placed in mortal danger if this project ever went forward.
The next time you hear politicians on Capitol Hill calling environmental regulations on the energy industry needless overkill on an industry that poses no serious threat to man or beast, please refer to the following two headlines from this week’s news:
In 2014, many outdoors groups will celebrate passage of one of the most important pieces of legislation ever for America's sportsmen—but I'm guessing most sportsmen won't be able to name it.
It's The Wilderness Act, signed Sept. 3, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson. The law included a legal definition of what the act set out to preserve:
"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
I am increasingly faced with problems that seem so very far beyond my capacity to solve them. I am almost relieved when some big problem comes flying at me that is real, clearly defined, and imminently solvable. If somebody tells me that we're out of firewood and it's about to get real cold, I've got a truck, gas and oil, an old but solid Husqvarna 262, and a Forest Service permit to cut a few cords of standing dead. I have a clear solution to the problem.
The solution to our wetlands problem is clear as well.
The truth is, only some members of Congress deserve our praise so far--specifically, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who have packaged some long-overdue ideas to help fish, wildlife and sportsmen.