Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2228  |  E-mail   |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

Faith Leaders Call for Protection for Bristol Bay

Study Concludes that Proposed Pebble Mine Would Threaten
the Health of Creation, Livelihoods and Tribal Communities

Seattle, May 31, 2012 – Representatives of the National Council of Churches called for protection of the Bristol Bay Watershed today at a public hearing in Seattle.


Following a recent trip to Washington, D.C. by senior religious leaders to educate elected officials about the importance of Bristol Bay, today’s testimonies reiterated the need to prevent large scale development in the Bay, which would threaten jobs, the health of Creation and Alaskan Native culture.

Last week, Archbishop Benjamin of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Wm. Chris Boerger of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Reverend Marja Coons-Torn of the United Church of Christ joined the National Council of Churches in Washington D.C. to thank the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their scientific assessment of Bristol Bay and educate elected officials about the need for Bristol Bay protection.

Recently, the EPA released a scientific assessment of Bristol Bay that concluded a large scale gold and copper mine, such as the Pebble Mine that has been proposed, would destroy at least 55 miles of salmon spawning habitat and 2500 acres of wetland.


This would threaten the health of God’s Creation and the well-being of the subsistence culture that provides for the more than 8,000 Alaskan Natives living around Bristol Bay.

“[Episcopal Church Presiding] Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori frequently talks about science and religion providing two ways of knowing and understanding the beauty of Creation," said Mike Schut of the Episcopal Church at the hearing. "And she notes that we have better 'depth perception' when we use both. The scientific assessment conducted by the EPA provides that depth perception that we in the faith community did not have before when it comes to Bristol Bay.”

Ms. Tyler Edgar of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program brought greetings and thanks from the Orthodox Church in America. “Protecting Bristol Bay is in keeping with our Christian call to protect Creation and seek justice for the most vulnerable," Edgar said. "We must do all that we can to protect this beautiful and bountiful part of God’s Earth.”


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),


NCC Home Page