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.