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Defeating Dirty Energy: 5 Inspiring Examples of David Beating Goliath

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  This story first appeared in OnEarth.org.    

Okay, so we're all depressed. The planet is going to hell in a bucket, Congress is a train wreck, the fossil fuel lobby is stomping us into the ground, the  Keystone XL pipeline means game over for climate change.      

Right? No, wrong. And here's why. I've never been a Pollyanna, but all over the world I see remarkable things happening. In one multi-billion dollar mega-project after another, David is standing up to Goliath-and winning. These projects run the whole gamut of dirty and destructive development, from coal and oil to open-pit mines and giant dams. In many cases, they involve  stories I've reported on in the past few years forOnEarth.

Let's start with the  extraordinary announcement last week that the mining company Anglo-American (market cap $35.5 billion) is pulling out of the partnership that has been planning to build the gargantuan Pebble Mine on the pristine headwaters of Alaska's Bristol Bay. With an estimated $300 billion in recoverable reserves of gold, copper, and molybdenum, Pebble would be one of the richest mines in the world. Now Anglo-American, which held a 50 percent share in the project, is writing off losses of more than half a billion dollars.       

The environmental threat posed by the mine, especially to the world's largest wild salmon runs, was clear from the start. But who could stand in the way of such a colossus? A bunch of cantankerous local fishermen? A few native peoples, whose views have never counted for much? Yet that ragtag assortment of dissenters has morphed over the years into a diverse and vocal opposition movement that drew in guides and outfitters, anglers and hunters, bush pilots and storekeepers, and big NGOs such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth). Polls of Bristol Bay residents show 80 percent opposed to the mine.  


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