Trillium Statement on the U.S. EPA’s Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska
January 16, 2014 – The following statements may be attributed to Jonas Kron, Trillium Asset Management’s Director of Shareholder Advocacy:
Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska which states that large scale mining such as the proposed Pebble Mine has “potential for significant effects on Alaska Native cultures” and “the significant loss of Chinook salmon populations” which “would have severe consequences…”
Trillium commends the EPA for producing a rigorous, science-based assessment and believes now is the time for the EPA to initiate a Clean Water Act 404(c) process designed to protect this important national resource.
Since 2011, investors representing over $100 billion in assets have provided comments to the EPA expressing concerns about large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. The EPA’s report follows Anglo American’s recent announcement of its withdrawal from the proposed Pebble Mine because of the project’s risk/return profile. Mining company, Rio Tinto, has also announced that it is reviewing its continued participation in the project.
As investors, this risk/return analysis is fundamental and we believe that environmental, social, government policy and financial risk/return factors must be addressed in an integrated manner.
In 2012, The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued a letter stating, “Bristol Bay is a one-of-a-kind fishery that is important not only to the ecology of the region but also to fulfilling the goal of long-term sustainable seafood sourcing.” Not only is the FMI a national trade association that represents 1,500 member companies – food retailers and wholesalers – in the United States and around the world with a combined annual sales volume of $680 billion, but also it represents many companies that are in our investment portfolios. Resources like Bristol Bay are important for our economy in countless ways and need protection.
Finally, we observe that from an investor perspective, a Section 404(c) process at this stage could help remove regulatory risk and uncertainty surrounding mining in the region. This presents the opportunity to enhance clarity that could in turn facilitate the efficient and environmentally responsible allocation of capital investment in mineral development. We believe it is prudent for all financially interested parties to understand now, as fully as possible, the regulatory environment. For that reason we believe strongly that the EPA should be provided with the resources necessary to continue with the 404(c) process.
Accordingly, we believe that an inclusive and scientifically based Section 404(c) process, in keeping with the EPA’s environmental assessment process we have seen thus far, can be consistent with the concerns with economic growth, responsible mineral development and the financial importance of ecosystem services.
For more information please contact Randy Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 515-6889.