Most voters support ban on mining in Bristol Bay, poll says

Nearly 63 percent of voters polled are in favor of a likely 2014 ballot initiative that would prohibit mining in Bristol Bay, according to an opinion poll released by Anchorage-based Hays Research Group. Almost 24 percent said they would oppose the ballot initiative.

Voters in the Lake and Peninsula Borough passed the Save Our Salmon initiative in 2011. The initiative is currently being argued in court. If the initiative stands, it would prohibit the proposed Pebble Mine. The Pebble Partnership says the mine would potentially produce 107.4 million ounces of gold, 80.6 billion pounds of copper and 5.6 billion pounds of molybdenum over the next 20 to 25 years.

The poll targeted 389 Alaskan voters who’d voted in at least two of the last three primary elections, Hays Research Group Director Adam Hays said.

“We’ve been tracking opinions on Bristol Bay for awhile and this is the first time we’ve posed the question this way,” Hays said. “We found that the support grew tremendously when they were able to oppose mining in just that one area.“

Participants in the poll were asked if they favored prohibiting mining in Bristol Bay, as opposed to previous polls which asked if participants were opposed to the Pebble Mine specifically or opposed to mining altogether. 

“I think it’s because the different mining and development groups have done a good job of packaging ‘pro-development’ as a specific theme,” Hays said. “(That theme means) you can’t oppose even one job because it means opposing all mining and development in the state.”

Hays said he was not paid by any person or organization to conduct the poll. He said the poll was published to let people know about a series of 13 polls that his group plans to release over the next year leading up to the primary election.

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