Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Join Yukon Presbytery EP in Protecting Bristol Bay

On August 12, 2014, the Rev. Curt Karns, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of the Yukon, offered testimony before the EPA in support of protecting the Bristol Bay from the encroaching Pebble Mine. The EPA’s process of research and public comment has the authority to deny a mining permit to what would become one of the largest mines in the world and the largest open pit mine in North America. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, the EPA has determined that Pebble Mine could not function without causing irreparable harm -- a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world’s few and most productive wild salmon strongholds that supports a $500 million commercial and sport fishery. For thousands of years, Bristol Bay has supported native subsistence hunters with its wealth of salmon. Today, it supports a sustainable commercial fishing industry and the native communities that call the Bay home.

Executive Presbyter Curt Karns’ Pebble Mine Statement

"I am the Rev. Dr. Curtis Karns, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Yukon in Alaska for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am grateful for this opportunity to speak as a member of the faith community.

"In 2012, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) went on record as fully supporting the EPA in its work of protecting and restoring the environment. We are grateful for your work now and consider your involvement important Presbyterian denominational policy states: “God's work in creation is too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated.” Indeed, Presbyterians understand God’s creation to be sacred, and therefore it is something that can be desecrated.

"In this case, the Bristol Bay watershed, the world’s largest salmon spawning habitat has flourished for millennia, with local residents participating in the bounty and care for that habit. Now the science is clear: this mine puts the watershed at risk. Pebble Mine might provide jobs and products for a generation or two, but it would put an ancient and sacred habit at risk, as well as the unique way of life of the Alaskans who have cared for it so effectively. This mine risks the “desecration” of that watershed to satisfy one or two generations’ desires. We need to assure that Alaskans can always live in harmony with this watershed habitat, that they can always enjoy the fishery jobs this watershed provides, and that this ancient Alaskan way of life can continue.

"I urge you to move forward with your 404-C protections.