By HAYDEN LUDWIG
In recent years, an Alaska mining project has garnered intense scrutiny from the Lower 48 in the shape of the environmental Left, which is desperate to kill it in the cradle. Should they succeed the consequences for Alaska—and the rest of the country—are dire.
The target is Pebble Mine, a mineral exploration project in southwest Alaska that’s been locked in intense legal battles for nearly fifteen years. Pebble has the potential to supply as much as 25 percent of the United States’ copper needs over the next century—a critical metal used in everything from refrigerators and smart phones to the electric cars and wind turbines so beloved by environmentalists.
In fact, copper is essential to electric vehicles; according to the Copper Development Association, up to 49 pounds of copper are used in the construction of petroleum-powered cars, whereas electric cars can require as much as 183 pounds of copper to build. And copper is even more valuable in the construction of wind and solar power sources, which couldn’t exist without the metal. Wind turbines, for example, are each built using some 800 pounds of copper.
Considering its value to the construction of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, one might expect left-wing groups to be the loudest voices in support of the Pebble project. After all, many of the environmentalist groups targeting the project are vocal supporters of the Green New Deal—you know, the one that mandates 100 percent renewable energy in the U.S. over the next decade.
But there’s little consistency from the “keep-it-in-the-ground” crowd, which happily demands renewable energy production while protesting the means to generate it.
Washington, D.C.-based mega-lobbying groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, aided by front groups for D.C. “dark money” funders, are all aligned against the project.
As usual, hysterics rule the day. The NRDC has claimed the mine would pit an “eternal supply of food against an eternal supply of poison,” absurdly casting Pebble as a scheme by money-grubbing miners to pump toxics into Bristol Bay.
Bizarrely, the League of Conservation Voters even painted the mine as an insidious effort by “foreign mining companies” to intentionally pollute Alaskan waters. (Pebble’s primary backer is based in Canada, our friendly neighbors to the north).
The Left has coalesced its efforts to halt Pebble around the so-called “Save Bristol Bay” campaign, which alleges that Pebble will destroy the venerable salmon fishing industry. But Save Bristol Bay isn’t even headquartered in Alaska; it’s a front for Trout Unlimited, a D.C.-based group run by radical eco-activists masquerading as “conservationists.”
Trout Unlimited is a classic decoy funded by left-wing mega-foundations to fool viewers and the gullible media into thinking it’s a sportsmen’s group. The group was founded in the 1950s by conservation-minded fishermen, but it’s since been taken over by liberals closely connected to the professional Left. The group is led by Chris Wood, a member of President Barack Obama’s 2008 transition team.
Despite its outward appearance, Trout Unlimited is, in fact, little different from groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, pushing radical global warming policies such as an economy-wrecking carbon tax.
And little wonder. Trout Unlimited has received tens of millions of dollars from the Nature Conservancy and the Gates, Hewlett, and Wyss Foundations, which also fund the radicals pushing population control, abortion-on-demand, global warming, and anti-Trump causes.
As I recently wrote, the Save Bristol Bay campaign is being waged alongside SalmonState, another front for Beltway cash. SalmonState is a “pop-up” group—eco-activism in the form of a website made to look like a real nonprofit.
But SalmonState is just one of hundreds of phony “pop-up” groups run by the D.C. consulting firm Arabella Advisors through its network of shadowy “dark money” nonprofits.
Arabella’s model is the ultimate form of “Astroturfing”—fake grassroots activism. And it’s huge; in 2017 alone, the Arabella empire brought in nearly $582 million which it used to push leftist policies in healthcare, gun control, and climate change. (My group, the Capital Research Center, recently mapped the reaches of the Arabella network in our exposé Big Money in Dark Shadows.)
And like Trout Unlimited, none of that activism would be possible without the steady stream of money coming from liberal foundations, almost all of which are headquartered in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.
Does that sound like local “conservationism” to you?
Pebble Mine brings Alaska to an important crossroads. It’s an opportunity to tap into The Last Frontier’s vast abundance, bringing much-needed prosperity to the state as well as American mineral independence from countries like communist China. But it’s a decision Alaskans—not wealthy Beltway activists—need to make.
Hayden Ludwig is an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.