Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay, Alaska: ‘The Wrong Mine in the Wrong Place’

Fly-fishing in Bristol Bay

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Fishing Boats in Bristol Bay

Fishing Boats in Bristol Bay

On September 09, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was pursuing reinstatement of the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) determination to protect certain waters in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Those waters are the ones that would be at risk from the Pebble Mine.

According to the EPA’s press release:

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a filing in the district court, is announcing EPA’s intent to request that the 2019 withdrawal notice be remanded and vacated. If the court grants the motion, remand and vacatur would automatically reinitiate EPA’s 404(c) review process and the agency would announce a schedule for resuming a process to protect certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed—including opportunities for public input.

While not a permanent solution for Bristol Bay, it is another important step toward protection of these salmon-rich waters.


Background

A Canadian-owned company has been moving to mine for minerals (including gold) close to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which includes the richest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Runoff from the proposed Pebble Mine — including hazardous chemicals such as cyanide — would threaten the near-pristine habitat of salmon and other wildlife around Bristol Bay and the rivers and lakes that flow into it.

Communities and fishermen in and around Bristol Bay have depended for generations on abundant salmon runs for food, income and a way of life. Fishermen have maintained this sustainable relationship through a respect for the salmon’s natural habitat paired with science-based fisheries management. Pebble Mine would upset this balance for the benefit of the mine’s owners and investors, and at the expense of the people who live there.

As the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska said of Pebble Mine, “This is the wrong mine in the wrong place.” Learn more about why Pebble Mine is bad for Alaska: