By Tim Bristol
A recent survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Bristol Bay United, finds that opposition to the Pebble Mine remains strong, with 62 percent of likely Alaska voters opposing the mine and only 33 percent supporting it. The intensity gap is also stark; 47 percent are “strongly opposed” to the mine, while only 16 “strongly support” it. Support crosses party lines, with 88 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and 42 percent of Republicans opposing the mine.
Additionally, 55 percent support EPA action to deny Pebble the federal permit necessary to move forward. The survey also showed that 55 percent support EPA action in Bristol Bay.
It was Alaskans who asked the EPA to take a close look at the Pebble Mine, and it’s Alaskans who are still overwhelmingly opposed to the Pebble Mine and strongly supportive of EPA action. As Pebble continues to fight this losing battle, the company’s tired and hollow arguments are falling on deaf ears in Alaska.
Voters in Alaska clearly understand the risk of the Pebble Mine. Some 70 percent believe the mine poses a threat to Alaska’s fishing industry, with 51 percent believing it could create a “great deal” of risk.
Conversely, only 20 percent are very concerned about Alaska losing out on thousands of reliable, year-round jobs if Pebble isn’t built. Opposition to the Pebble Mine is unique for an Alaska resource issue; the same poll found that 67 percent of respondents supported drilling in ANWR.
The poll shows opposition to the Pebble Mine is in line and even stronger than previously released polls over the last several years. And the poll was conducted after the EPA initiated — and the Pebble Limited Partnership and State of Alaska responded to — the Clean Water Act 404(c) process in the region.
“This poll shows that Alaskans understand that the Pebble mine would be an economic and environmental disaster waiting to happen. The EPA has the strong support of Alaskans as it continues its process to protect Bristol Bay and its fishing economy from irresponsible mining development in Bristol Bay.”
— Katherine Carscallen, Sustainability Director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
Methodology: On behalf of Bristol Bay United, the Benenson Strategy Group conducted 600 telephone interviews with likely 2014 voters in Alaska from May 13 through May 15, 2014. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. It d is larger for subgroups. For context, note that in the poll, 18 percent of the voters interviewed self-identify as Democrats, 26 percent as Republicans, and 57 percent as Independents or something else.
Bristol Bay United is an unprecedented coalition of Alaska Natives, commercial fishing industry members, and sport-fishing interests who are unified in opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine.
Tim Bristol is the Alaska Program director for Trout Unlimited.
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