Agency proposes mining restrictions in Bristol Bay to protect salmon, world-class angling and 14,000 American jobs
ANCHORAGE, AK –Sportsmen around the country applaud the EPA’s release of its draft determination to bolster watershed protections near Bristol Bay, Alaska, by proposing safeguards against large-scale mining like the proposed Pebble Mine.
The draft, released today, would guard the Bristol Bay watershed against development that would have “unacceptable adverse impacts” to the watershed, and launches a 60-day public comment period. Trout Unlimited encourages its members and all Americans to comment during this open period in support of full protections for Bristol Bay and finally put the controversial Pebble Mine proposal to rest.
“For 10 years, the proposed Pebble Mine has cast a cloud of uncertainty on Bristol Bay. Today’s announcement provides hope that we are nearing the finish line to protecting the world’s most prolific salmon fishery,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Two of Bristol Bay’s rivers would be most affected by the proposed Pebble Mine. One provides nearly half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon, and is the best rainbow trout fishery in the world. The other is consistently among the top three producers in king salmon. It would be difficult to conceive a worst place to put an open-pit mine with 700-foot-tall earthen dams holding back its toxic tailings than in the seismically active Bristol Bay region.”
“Thousands of Alaskans requested that the EPA review threats to the Bristol Bay fishery from the proposed Pebble Mine, and hoped they would recommend strong protections for Bristol Bay salmon and jobs as they have,” said Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program. “We applaud the EPA for moving forward with a fair and transparent process, and for following the science. Far from a preemptive veto, the EPA’s actions simply place an understandably high standard for any mining company wishing to apply for permits in Bristol Bay. These restrictions will ensure that no unacceptable adverse impacts will occur from mining development in Bristol Bay; the very standard that has been the law of the land for over 40years.”
The EPA comment period, which begins today, enables sportsmen and women and anyone who cares about Bristol Bay salmon to weigh in on the EPA’s draft determination.
“The Bristol Bay fishery is a $1.5 billion annual economic powerhouse. It supports over 14,000 jobs annually. The EPA is making the right economic, social and ecological choice with their draft proposal. The stakes are now incredibly high and the EPA needs to hear that their efforts to enact strong protections are supported by Alaskans and sportsmen across America,” Wood said.
During this comment period, there will be hearings in the Bristol Bay region and Anchorage to provide ample opportunity for Alaskans to weigh in on the draft determination. After which, the EPA will review public input and release a recommended determination to “withdraw, prohibit, deny or restrict” mining within the proposed Pebble Mine area.
“We and Bristol Bay Tribes have been requesting this course of action for years,” Bristol said. “Now we finally have the unique opportunity to use the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay’s renewable salmon industry right now. The proposed determination is an action that was requested by Alaskans, and serves the needs of our state by ensuring that the wrong type of large-scale mining development will not move forward in Bristol Bay.”
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.
Chris Wood at (571) 274-0601
Tim Bristol (907) 321-3291