VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Tulsi Gabbard is calling for immediate action to put a stop to a dangerous move executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration. Unless the decision is overturned, thousands of jobs will be lost and an entire Alaskan watershed will be destroyed—killing the aquatic life within it and endangering the people who, for thousands of years, have depended on the fish and miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats it supports.

Tulsi Gabbard, a lifelong environmentalist with a proven record of protecting our environment, explains the critical situation facing Bristol Bay, Alaska and calls on Congress to take action to protect it.

Nearly half of the world’s Sockeye Salmon comes from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Its watershed employs over 14,000 full-and part-time workers, generates $1.5 billion dollars in economic activity, and is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments—many of whom have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for more than 4,000 years.

Yet the world’s most valuable salmon fishery is facing a direct threat by the very government agency given the job to protect it—the Environmental Protection Agency. Its newest administrator and Trump nominee, Scott Pruitt, recently held closed-door meetings with Canadian-owned mining company Pebble Limited Partnership about developing a copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay larger than Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just over an hour after the meeting, Pruitt rescinded federal salmon protections in the area, opening the door for development and mining.

Despite numerous studies and historical data over the years that cite the ecological and economic importance of protecting Bristol Bay from mining project development, Pruitt has made it clear that he has no qualms with brokering deals at the expense of the American people and the planet.
To quote his own agency’s 2014 assessment, such a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources,” and the loss of miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats. In addition, the EPA calculated a 95% chance of spill, per pipeline, in 25 years, threatening “acute exposure to toxic water and chronic exposure to toxic sediment” to fish and invertebrates.

Along with the virtual destruction of these species and wetlands, this would poison the watershed and needlessly endanger the communities who have relied upon the Sockeye Salmon for sustenance for thousands of years. The cost of destroying thousands of jobs and decimating the environment and resources these communities rely on is too great to measure.

The economics of Bristol Bay are everything President Trump promised to protect: American workers supplying American families and businesses through American jobs.

Yet the president and his administration have demonstrated time and again that they are eager to put their friends and business partners’ interests and profit before the health and wellbeing of the American people.

Hawaiʻi and Alaska have long shared a special and unique relationship, working together across party lines for the wellbeing of our people. For decades, we’ve worked together to empower our native communities, promote our local economies, secure resources for our rural populations, and much more. Now, we must stand together again and urge our colleagues in Congress to join the fight to protect Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable resources before it is too late.

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