Protecting the Bristol Bay Watershed from Pebble Mine

Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

The Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska is an area rich with salmon, wildlife and salmon-based Alaska Native cultures and is home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.

A large-scale gold and copper mine, called the Pebble Mine, has been proposed for the area. Between 24 and 94 miles of streams would be lost due to the mine footprint alone, spills into the remaining streams are likely, and the resulting toxic mine waste will pose a threat to the area in perpetuity.

In January 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final Bristol Bay Assessment describing potential impacts to salmon and ecological resources from proposed large-scale copper and gold mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The report, titled An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska, details the grave risks facing Bristol Bay’s natural resources, Native peoples, commercial fishing jobs and industry, and tremendous recreational opportunities if a mine is allowed to proceed.

Sockeye salmon in Alaska's Bristol Bay.
The Bristol Bay watershed is home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world. (Photo provided by Ben Knight / Trout Unlimited)

Case Updates

The Bristol Bay watershed.
July 26, 2023 Press Release

Alaska Seeks to Overturn Hard-Won Victory Against Pebble Mine With Unorthodox Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Earthjustice reacts to legal filing seeking to overturn EPA determination vetoing the mine

July 26, 2023 Document

Motion for Leave to File Bill of Complaint – Pebble Mine

Alaska seeks to strike down an EPA determination issued in January 2023 to protect the Bristol Bay watershed under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

July 26, 2023 In the News: Alaska Public Media

State asks U.S. Supreme Court to reverse EPA’s veto of Pebble Mine

Carole Holley, Managing Attorney, Alaska Office, Earthjustice: “It’s a highly unusual legal move, and also a highly unpopular one.”