Joy as EPA acts on Bristol Bay mining project
America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to start a process which could save the Bristol Bay fishery and the world’s largest sockeye salmon population from the potentially destructive impacts of the Pebble Mine mining project.
The EPA’s initiation of the Clean Water Act is a major victory for conservationists, including the fishing tackle industry, who had called on it to do so following its final report into the effects of large-scale mining in the region.
The EPA is invoking its authority under the Clean Water Act to determine whether it should permanently bar the issuing of a discharge permit to the mine developer, Northern Dynasty Minerals.
Leading campaigner, Scott Hed, Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Alaska, called the EPA’s decision ‘huge news’. He told Angling International: “This is what we have been calling for and is another tremendous step forward.”
The EPA has evoked its authority under the Clean Water Act just 13 times in its history. In starting up the process the agency is sending a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Alaska and the mine’s sponsor to ask why they believe the operation would not damage the watershed.
After that point the EPA regional administrator in the Pacific Northwest will issue a ‘proposed determination’ that would lay out whether the company can discharge waste into the area, and if so, where and how much.
The public will also have an opportunity to comment on the proposal after which point the regional administrator will send a recommendation to the EPA.
The EPA has already conducted two peer-review scientific assessments of the project – its latest voicing serious concerns about how the mine development would affect the future of the whole region.