Alaskan Youth Bring Their Pebble Mine and Climate Demands Directly to Murkowski

Youth Community Leaders Push Elected Officials for Climate Action and a Stop to Pebble Mine

WASHINGTON D.C.- Wednesday, June 12, 2019,  Seven young Alaskans with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action traveled to the nation’s Capitol to speak to their representatives on Climate Change and Pebble Mine. Over the course of two days, they toured D.C. and met with Senator Murkowski and Rep. Huffman (D-CA) who recently proposed an amendment to stop the Pebble Mine’s progress.

Gabriel Stenek a youth leader from Shishmaref highlighted the personal impact of climate change to his community: “We are here to talk about climate change because it not only affects Alaskan communities but it does so at such an extreme rate that the people are unable to adapt or take their own action. In my community, climate change is one of the biggest problems of the present and for the future. Our sea ice is also very important to our people, and we receive less of it every year and it is weaker.”

Climate change is a priority for young people across the world and Alaskan youth are seeing its effects escalate quickly in their communities. In Alaska, youth on the frontlines watch their communities flood or erode into rising waters as warming and acidification affect the economy and their food security. Now the Federal Government is fast-tracking the Pebble project, at the headwaters of Alaska’s greatest regenerative economic engine - the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery. This Pebble Mine is also projected to emit one million tons of greenhouse gases every year, potentially compounding climate change issues in their state.

“Where I grew up, we still cannot drink from specific waterways as a result of the contamination from mining materials from 100 years ago.” Explains Cassidy Austin a 17-year-old youth representative from McCarthy. “ I fear that if Pebble Mine goes through, my children and future generations will not be allowed the same opportunities as past generations.”

The youth looked to their Alaskan leaders to support decisive action around Pebble and, in turn, Climate Change mitigation moving forward but as Jasmine Leremia an 18-year-old representative from Petersburg demonstrates, they were left wanting - “Senator Murkowski did not commit to opposing Pebble Mine. She says that we cannot trade one resource for another and that it is the responsibility of our generation to find solutions to the issues that we face. Murkowski also told us that we are the next generation of leaders, and that is true. We are coming to Senator Murkowski and asking her to use her power as a member of Congress to stand with Alaskans and oppose Pebble Mine.”

Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, a program of The Alaska Center Education Fund, has been supporting youth to travel to D.C. for 18 years. Climate Change mitigation has been the constant thread through each of these D.C. visits and continues to be the number one issue for Alaskan community youth leaders across the state.

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