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

Sockeye salmon race through the Alagnak River in Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed.
January 31, 2023 Update: Victory

A Huge Win for Alaska’s Salmon: EPA Says No to Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay

The decision is an important step in preserving Bristol Bay and its residents’ way of life.

January 31, 2023 Press Release: Victory

EPA Issues Landmark Clean Water Act Decision Protecting Bristol Bay Watershed from Pebble Mine

EPA decision protects Bristol Bay waters from becoming a dumping ground for mine waste; effectively rebuffing the threat of Pebble Mine

October 9, 2019 Document

Legal Document: Groups Sue EPA For Gutting Protections And Clearing Path For Pebble Mine

Earthjustice, representing Earthworks, files a lawsuit charging the U.S. EPA with breaking the law when it withdrew a 2014 Proposed Determination setting out protections for Bristol Bay.