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Trout Unlimited files lawsuit against EPA

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Trout Unlimited, the US-based organisation dedicated to the conservation of freshwater streams, rivers and associated upland habitats, has filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

Trout Unlimited has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its recent decision to withdraw protections for the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.

Called the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, the protections would have limited the scope and scale of impacts from the proposed Pebble mine to the world-class salmon, trout and water resources of the region.

Trout Unlimited’s lawsuit alleges the EPA ignored science and the potential impacts of developing the mine when it withdrew the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, and in doing so violated the Administrative Procedures Act and Clean Water Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a permit to Pebble if the EPA’s decision on the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination is overturned.  

“Billions of dollars have been spent in an attempt to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Bristol Bay sets records for its salmon returns year after year. All we need to do is have the humility and common-sense to leave this landscape alone,” said Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited.

“Sacrificing a place such as Bristol Bay for some gold is a short-sighted fools-errand. We are not a litigious organisation, but we and millions of other sportsmen and women will not allow greed to compromise the most important salmon fishery on the planet.” 

The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska supports the world’s most abundant sockeye salmon run, Alaska’s best Chinook salmon run, and a world-famous trophy rainbow trout fishery. These fisheries are the foundation for a robust sport fishing industry, a rich cultural history and subsistence way of life supporting more than 30 Alaska native tribes, and a valuable commercial fishing industry. 

Bristol Bay fishing—including sport, commercial and subsistence—accounts for thousands of sustainable local jobs and more than $1.5 billion in annual economic activity.  

Citing this unique and wild character, and the economic and cultural importance of the region, the EPA prepared the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination after years of scientific research and multiple peer reviews, with many thousands of Alaskans and millions of Americans voicing support for protecting the region.

 “Any action that jeopardises this fishery and extremely unique place is unacceptable,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska Director for Trout Unlimited. “The proposed Pebble mine is widely opposed by anglers and hunters across Alaska and the country. This lawsuit is a step to hold the EPA accountable to its own science and American sportsmen and women, not a foreign-owned mining company.” 

Trout Unlimited is represented pro bono by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in the action.

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