Conservation News

EPA protects Bristol Bay, Alaska from toxic Pebble Mine

ANCHORAGE, AK— SalmonState today cheered the issuance of a series of safeguards by the Environmental Protection Agency that will protect the headwaters of salmon-rich Bristol Bay, Alaska and prevent the construction and operation of the proposed Pebble open pit mine.

The EPA’s Final Determination concludes a deliberative, science-based process via the Clean Water Act originally called for by Bristol Bay area Tribal governments 13 years ago. Under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, the EPA determined if the massive proposed Pebble Mine could be built and operated without destroying critical salmon-sustaining wetlands and waterways. The science laid out in the documents clearly shows the answer is “no.”

Bristol Bay is the home of the largest sockeye salmon run remaining on the planet. In 2022, Bristol Bay broke records for the third year in a row, with a return of nearly 80 million sockeye salmon.

“Today’s decision may be the most popular thing the federal government has ever done for Alaska,” said SalmonState Executive Director Tim Bristol. “Thousands of Alaskans and over a million Americans from across the political spectrum have called for protection of Bristol Bay’s one-of-kind salmon resource from massive open pit mining and today, the EPA delivered.”

“This is a victory for every single person — from Bristol Bay’s tribal citizens, commercial fisherman, sport anglers, business leaders, chefs, scientists, and so many more — who have spoken out over the years, and we thank the EPA and the Biden Administration for this well-considered, heavily documented, overwhelmingly popular move,” Bristol continued.

“These restrictions and prohibitions by EPA, coupled with the recently completed Pedro Bay conservation initiative, provides a strong sense of relief — but we will not rest until the threat of large-scale, open pit, acid waste generating mining is completely eliminated from the headwaters of Bristol Bay,” said Bristol. “This will take vision and leadership from our decision-makers, and we look forward to working with them to reach this goal.” 

SalmonState works to keep Alaska a place wild salmon and the people who depend on them thrive.

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