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The Biggest News Item…

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Pebble Mine Dealt a Gut Punch:  EPA Uses Clean Water Act to Protect Bristol Bay

The fat lady isn’t singing yet.  But she’s warming up.

The biggest news at IFTD on Friday didn’t come from any one company, and it didn’t feature one product.  It was about a place worth saving… that now looks very likely to be saved.  And almost everyone in the sport of fly fishing played a part, in one way or another, to bring this about.  It could go down as the greatest collaborative conservation victory in the history of the fly fishing industry.

Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska played a leading role in all this.  From his organization’s press release that explains what the Environmental Protection Agency did, and what that means…

Hunting and Angling Community Commends EPA on Use of Clean Water Act to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Today’s Environmental Protection Agency announcement of its proposed determination to protect Bristol Bay using Section 404c of the Clean Water Act elicited praise from a vast coalition of more than 1,100 sporting groups and businesses opposed to proposed mining operations that threaten Southwest Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region. The groups continue to support the EPA’s use of its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect this international fishing and hunting “bucket list” destination. The sporting community realizes EPA’s action is serious but also knows this type of mining in this area is the special situation for which the 404c section of the Clean Water Act was written.

Hed emphasized the broad support for the conservation of the Bristol Bay region, stating, “Hunters and anglers from across the country have joined forces and worked for years to defend one of the planet’s finest sporting destinations. The EPA previously identified the threats posed by massive mining proposals in the region and now has issued some advance guidance that will ensure any future development in Bristol Bay will not harm its vast natural resources. Sportsmen welcome this development and believe EPA is taking the right approach by using the Clean Water Act to provide Bristol Bay a future unclouded by the uncertainty it has faced for the last decade.”

Another way to explain this is to describe it as a birthday cake candle that’s just been blown out.  It’s smoking and smoldering, and it might even turn into a “surprise” birthday candle.  But for all intents and purposes, it’s a really, really crappy time to be an investor in the mining companies pushing the Pebble project.

On the science, and the culture, and the law, the Pebble side has lost.  Now they’ll try the politics angle.  Expect to see riders, amendments, funky appropriations bills, and all that, attempting to gut the Clean Water Act and the EPA’s right to enforce it.  The pro-mine people will pull out all the punches to keep this thing alive.  We need to be more vigilant, and play better defense than ever.  They lost the game, now they’re going to try to change the rules and request a replay.  There’s another comment period, and everyone needs to voice up.  Stay tuned to AT for links and commentary.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Dr. Fred J.Novak on

    It is my understanding that this open pit mining for gold and copper fight has been

    going on for quite some time before the EPA came in but you make it sound like they

    were the white knights. Also, the gold industries in both England and the US have petioned

    never buy any gold ever mined at Pebble.The principals involved are not even US companies.

    Go mine the copper in the desert. Also no mention of how it will effect the subsistance

    living of the native Alaskans living in the area.

  2. Scott is one of my favorite people to see at any show. He is always positive and puts forth an incredible amount of work that each and every one of us should respect. I spoke with him at the show about this and he is very excited about the outcome in the next year. He did stress that we can not let our guard down and we need to continue to join together to fight the potential of a mine in Bristol Bay. He also mentioned that if we do get the victory we all hope for, there will never be a guarantee. Laws and policies are alway changing and with a hopeful victory in this battle that has joined all types of anglers and hunters together, we will still need to have our watchdogs keeping an eye out for any policy change that could once again open up this wonderful area to potential mining. Scott, thanks again for all of your hard work. We support you 100%.

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