On Tuesday, Barack Obama passed a ban on drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, saying that the area is “one of America’s greatest natural resources … a beautiful natural wonder.” The bay is “something that is too precious to just put out to the highest bidder,” he added. The ban makes the area permanently off limits to oil and gas drilling.
Bristol Bay is important to commercial and recreational fishermen, as well as the more than 40 percent of the planet’s wild sockeye salmon that call the bay home. Despite the good news on drilling, an EPA decision whether or not to allow mining in an uninhabited region near the bay remains pending. If approved, the mine could become one of the world’s primary sources of gold, copper and molybdenum, but mining there would also pose a massive risk to salmon and other wildlife, particularly since the mine would be located near salmon spawning grounds.
While Alaska Republicans announced that they understood the decision on the grounds of the $1.2 billion and 14,000 jobs that salmon fishing represents for Alaska yearly, they also questioned why Obama hasn’t made any announcements about leasing off-shore oil and gas drilling in general. For the moment, however, Alaska is looking much more safe from “drill, baby, drill” policy.
Via Washington Post