EPA Final Determination preemptively revokes Pebble Mine permit under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act
WASHINGTON – A massive industrial mine proposed for the fish- and wildlife-region of Bristol Bay, Alaska, has been blocked by the Environmental Protection Agency, which today announced it is proactively rescinding an industry fill and dredge permit under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act that will prevent development of the Pebble Mine.
The EPA determined that mine waste, including dredged or fill material, would have “unacceptable adverse effects” on Bristol Bay’s renowned wild salmon fishery, the largest remaining in the world, including the permanent loss of 8.5 miles of streams. This determination would necessarily preclude development of the Pebble Mine – thereby preventing more than 10.2 billion tons of waste from being disposed of in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska.
For more than a decade, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been fighting to conserve Bristol Bay, joining a diverse consortium of hunters, anglers, commercial fishermen, Tribal members, business owners and others in advocating for the region. Bristol Bay supports robust recreational, subsistence and commercial salmon fisheries as well as undisturbed habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
“Today is a momentous occasion for the millions of hunters and anglers who have raised our voices for Bristol Bay,” said John Gale, BHA’s vice president of policy and government relations. “The region’s wild rivers support the world’s largest remaining wild salmon fishery, 35 fish species and nearly half of all wild sockeye populations. It also provides undisturbed habitat for moose, caribou, brown bears, black bears and large populations of migratory waterfowl. Some places are too important to develop. Bristol Bay is one of them.”
The Biden administration’s work to conserve Bristol Bay follows actions undertaken by the Trump administration, which helped slow development of the Pebble Mine by requiring the Pebble Partnership to develop strategies for mitigating the project’s adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat. Today’s EPA announcement takes a critical next step, as the Trump administration decision is being appealed by Pebble Partnership.
“To Alaskans and visitors alike, the Bristol Bay region is considered one of the world’s top destinations for hunting and fishing. Additionally, for thousands of years, the annual returns of salmon have been the foundation of Alaska Native culture and lifestyle in the region,” said Kevin Fraley, an Alaska BHA board member and fisheries biologist. “Bristol Bay salmon provide a flood of nutrients into rivers, lakes, and forests, feeding giant coastal brown bears, hulking rainbow trout, bald eagles, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling. We are delighted that an additional layer of protection will be afforded to the region’s ecosystems thanks to this decision.”
BHA will continue working with indigenous communities, business leaders and our conservation partners to advocate for safeguards that add durability to EPA’s decision and secure greater certainty for the future of Bristol Bay and the tremendous fish and wildlife resources that drive our outdoor traditions and fuel the sustainability of critical economies.
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