Travel

The Buried Treasure That’s tearing alaska apart

It’s the question that pits neighbor against neighbor in Alaska:

Should America risk the last greatest salmon run to dig what could be the richest mine on the planet?

At the center of this question is the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive mineral deposit in southwestern Alaska worth between $300 and $500 billion.

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It all began in the 1980s, when a helicopter survey team noticed a strange red spot north of Bristol Bay.

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In 2001, Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty purchased the property and discovered a motherload of gold and copper.

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But to get it all, the company would need massive amounts of explosives and machinery to turn this pristine wetland into one of the biggest man-made holes in the world.

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That is exactly what worries the fishing communities downstream and Dan Schindler, head of the Alaska Salmon Program.

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More than two billion salmon have been caught in Bristol Bay since records began, and fish are the lifeblood of local industry.

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In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency determined that the fishery was too valuable to risk and too complex to mine.

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But then Donald Trump became President. And in May 2017, the EPA withdrew its plan to protect Bristol Bay.

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Pebble Partnership says the mine would be “in harmony with the environment” and create jobs.

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But even state Republicans like Alaska Senate president Rick Halford oppose the project.

Bill Weir/CNN

What will it be, Alaska? Red gold or yellow? Or do you think you can have both?