Wednesday, July 23, 2014

EPA Proposal Would Protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine Impact

A proposal issued by the Environmental Protection Agency this past week would protect the world-renowned Bristol Bay salmon fishery from adverse effects from risks posed by a proposed large scale Canadian mine.

The EPA has concluded that development of the Pebble prospect would threaten one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world. “Bristol Bay is an extraordinary eco-system that supports an ancient fishing culture and economic powerhouse,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran.

“The science is clear that mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems. Bristol Bay’s exceptional fisheries deserve exceptional protection,” McLerran said. “We are doing this now because we’ve heard from concerned tribes, the fishing industry, Alaskans and many others who have lived and worked for more than a decade under the uncertainty posed by this potentially destructive mine.”

The EPA proposes to restrict all discharges of dredged or fill material related to mining the Pebble deposit that would result in loss of streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds, and streamflow alterations.

The complete EPA proposal is online at

The Pebble Partnership, the principal asset of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, will continue to pursue litigation against EPA for “pre-emptive and unprecedented regulatory process under Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act,” said Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the Pebble Partnership.

Northern Dynasty, a subsidiary of the diversified global mining group Hunter Dickinson Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, also issued a statement, online at . Tribal groups in the Bristol Bay watershed applauded the EPA’s proposal.

“The future of our people, and 14,000 jobs are at risk,” said Kim Williams, executive director of Nunamta Alukestai, an association of ten Bristol Bay Native Tribes and Native village corporations. “We ‘re glad the EPA is doing its job.”

What the EPA has proposed “appears to be common sense, baseline standards for the Pebble project,” said Katherine Carscallen, sustainability director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Public hearings on the proposal are to be held Aug. 12 in Anchorage, on Aug 13 at New Stuyahok and Nondalton, on Aug. 14 at Kokhanok and Dillingham, and on Aug. 15 at Iliamna and Igiugig.

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