Beprere, a Kayapo warrior chief from central Brazil, is against the Pebble Mine. Photo: Kirk Deeter

Where it stands: Bristol Bay tribes and then more than a million Americans requested the EPA use its authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska where the Pebble Mine is proposed. The proposed mine site is at the headwaters of two rivers that feed into the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery on earth. EPA responded by (1) conducting a three-year, twice peer-reviewed scientific study, called the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, that confirmed the mine poses potentially “catastrophic” risks to the Bristol Bay watershed; and (2) issuing a Proposed Determination that, if finalized, would have restricted mining activities in Bristol Bay that the Watershed Assessment determined would harm salmon.

Isn’t Pebble already dead? Unfortunately, no. In 2014, mine opposition asked you to help mobilize your supporters to comment in support of the EPA’s proposal to use its authority under section 404(c) to limit mining activities that would harm salmon, a.k.a. the Proposed Determination. Hundreds of thousands followed through! The EPA received more than 1.5 million comments in support of strong protections for Bristol Bay. In short, Americans made it abundantly clear that the Pebble Mine is not worth the risk to the salmon, jobs and culture of Bristol Bay.

However, following a series of lawsuits and a change in political leadership within the EPA, the proposed protections so many of us asked for are on hold and are on the verge of being reversed.

So what’s happening now? In May, 2017, as part of a settlement agreement with Pebble, the EPA agreed to initiate the process for withdrawing its Proposed Determination and the protections we have long sought for Bristol Bay. While the science remains clear and nothing was done as part of the settlement to undercut the validity of the Watershed Assessment, the EPA is now soliciting comments about its plan to withdraw the Proposed Determination.

Comments will be accepted through October 17, 2017.



  1. THIS is the time for EPA to have the COURAGE of PROFESSIONALISM….THE nation does not need to backslide Politically, we do not need Foreign Corporations telling us to cave in for the sake of their personal benefits…….The science of destruction is before us if EPA reverses itself….It would be nice if the USA comes first in this issue, on all the fronts….Please listen to the 1.5 million AMERICANS who have already said said they want EPA to protect this AREA, not destroy it

    • First of all, Bristol Bay is ~100 miles away from the Pebble site.

      Second, there are NO salmon streams within the proposed Pebble mine. It is a virtual moonscape with < 0.5% of streams within 400 sq miles.

      Third, Pebble will:
      -not use cyanide
      -have little contaminated waste rock
      -clean to code and discharge all waste water (redundancy to avoid wave if asteroid hits dam)
      -store what solid tailings remain behind a wide/low dam that uses special lining and is 2x the strength needed to survive the worst possible Alaska earthquake occurring if a mega fault existed right at the site. (which it doesn't)

      The reality is… if Pebble's tailings dam were to fail, which is ~impossible per the very high safety margin and world class design/redundancy… only a fraction of Bristol Bay Salmon would be impacted. (<1 in 5000 fish impacted by disturbance of sediments in the worst case, not by chemicals)… with odds being power ball lottery level.

      But saying these facts… does not inspire people to rally in emotional opposition to the normal federal and state permitting process for this extremely safe mine.

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