Encourage President Biden to revoke the Trump era 404 permit and provide a fair, balanced and rigorous process that is led by the people of the region as prescribed by law.
The proposed Donlin Gold mine in Alaskas Yukon Kuskowkim River Delta would allow for the dredge and fill of waterbodies in the headwaters of the Kuskokwim River in some cases permanently eliminating salmon streams. We are writing to request that you revoke the Trump era 404 permit for the proposed Donlin Gold Mine Project and provide a Tribally led EIS process that is thorough and complete. This mine would have serious and irreversible adverse impacts on the people, land, fish, and wildlife of the Kuskokwim.
Within a year of former President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint Record of Decision with the Bureau of Land Management authorizing the key Clean Water Act permit required for the Donlin Gold project. That approval was granted despite the fact that the Environmental Impact Statement revealed major environmental impacts including the destruction of salmon spawning habitats and releases of mercury into the air and water far in excess of human health standards. For example, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Army Corps, it is anticipated that if the mine is developed there will be a 40% increase in mercury deposition to surface waters near the mine. Additionally, the Fish Habitat permits issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game without public notice or process authorize Donlin to permanently eliminate stream reaches that support Chinook, Coho, Sockeye and Chum salmon or as the permits themselves state: result in “altered or eliminated” habitat, “fish passage… would be eliminated,” and would reduce or eliminate flow of water from headwaters to the mouth of these streams.
Yukon-Kuskokwim residents, Tribal Governments and communities have expressed serious concerns about impacts to human health, the environment, and their sacred “Mother Kuskokwim” river from a massive increase in barge traffic carrying cyanide and other chemicals; a major gas pipeline with road access; and other major developments that building the largest open pit mine in Alaska would bring to the region of predominantly Indigenous Yupik, Cup’ik, and Athabascan communities who depend completely on traditional and customary uses of the lands, waters and fish and wildlife resources. 13 Tribal Governments, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, the Regional tribal organization called Alaska Village Council Presidents and even the National Congress of American Indians had passed resolutions of opposition to the project.
The Donlin Gold Mine would undeniably alter the landscape in vast ways that have not been adequately and honestly addressed. It is vital that the Army Corps provides extensive analysis of the project and the impacts it will have on the region. To this end, we find it necessary to request you revoke the Trump era 404 permit and provide the fair and balanced process that is led by the people of the region and rigorous as prescribed by law.