Batman and Spider-Man: Homecoming star Michael Keaton has stepped into a years-long controversy in Alaska that has pitted the fishing industry against the mining industry and, more recently, the Trump Administration. Appearing at a fundraiser for the Wild Salmon Center, a Portland-based environmental advocacy group that has been working to prevent mining of Bristol Bay in Alaska, Keaton called the decision to mine the Bay -- a project colloquially known as "Pebble Mine," and vocally opposed by environmentalists, fisheries, and other Alaskan interests -- "villainous." Keaton, who has been involved in environmental advocacy for decades, was called to speak to the organization by its
For a decade, a consortium of mining interests known as the Pebble Partnership has been trying to convince regulators that their plans to exploit the bay could coexist with the spawning ground there. Earlier this year, perhaps emboldened by President Trump's calls to roll back regulations in mining, Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier admitted that “they choose Alaska primarily because they don’t have to suffer the backlash from the economic impact of the project being killed because no one gives a rat’s ass what happens in Alaska.” Alaskans, many of whom still remember the Exxon Valdez spill that obliterated huge chunks of the state's economy, are wary of reduced environmental oversight. Critics claim the project is likely to destroy a quarter of the wild salmon in Alaska.
"If you ruin this particular area, you demolish the entire population," Keaton told The Hollywood Reporter. "Something like 60 million salmon every year pass through this area. Eventually these [mines] will leak and affect the fish. As a 35-plus-year fly fisherman, yeah, I care, but more than that, inevitably in these situations, it’s the people who suffer the most because it hurts the local economy, it hurts jobs, it hurts tourism. It’s not like the administration doesn’t care — they are actively trying to do things to destroy, dismantle and remove this [bay]."
Estimates are that the 40,000-square-mile Bristol Bay supports 14,000 jobs and generates $1.5 million annually in sales. Keaton, speaking to campaign for Wild Salmon Center, also touched on other hot-button environmental issues ranging from climate change to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
"This is unbelievably selfish and disrespectful," Keaton said. "It’s a slap in the f---ing face and unconscionable. We are watching a B-minus version of a villainous administration right in front of our eyes — with bad acting. There is something sick and demented about this."
Keaton can next be seen in What Is Life Worth, a film about 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney Kenneth Feinberg. His Batman films will be available for the first time on 4K Ultra HD next Tuesday.