Earthjustice Statement on EPA Clean Water Act Enforcement to Protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine Project

Careful examination of impacts to world’s largest salmon “factory” may halt huge copper mine project


Maggie Caldwell, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2084


Kari Birdseye, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2098

Citing potential irreversible impacts to Bristol Bay associated with a proposed massive copper and gold mine, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it would begin a 404(c) Clean Water Act process that could result in a decision to halt the mine.

The Pebble Mine, which would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, is proposed to be constructed in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska, an area rich with salmon, wildlife and salmon-based Alaska Native cultures, and home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.

Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo has this statement:

“We applaud EPA’s measured decision to begin the 404(c) process on the Pebble Mine. The global significance of this pristine region, which hosts the most productive salmon habitat in the world, warrants strong EPA action to halt a huge open-pit copper mine. The Native communities have understood the importance of Bristol Bay for 4000 years, deriving sustenance from the land and salmon-filled streams. To allow the Pebble Mine to move forward and damage a way of life, while threatening a world-class, billion-dollar salmon fishery, would be unacceptable.”

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.

Thousands of male walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) sunbathing together in Bristol Bay.
Thousands of male walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) sunbathing together in Bristol Bay. (Hal Brindley / Shutterstock)

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