Environment | National

EPA takes step that could block mine opposed by Alaska Natives





The Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to protect a fishery in Alaska, a move that could spell the end of a controversial mine opposed by Native villages and corporations.

Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency was invoking the Clean Water Act to identify ways to protect salmon in Bristol Bay. During the review process, a permit for the Pebble Mine cannot be approved.

“Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” McCarthy said in a press release. “It’s why EPA is taking this step forward in our effort to ensure protection for the world’s most productive salmon fishery from the risks it faces from what could be one of the largest open pit mines on earth. This process is not something the Agency does very often, but Bristol Bay is an extraordinary and unique resource.”

Alaska Native villages and corporations have been fighting the proposed mine. They say it will harm the salmon fishery and the watershed in Bristol Bay.

The developers behind the Pebble Partnership have not filed a permit application for the mine. But the group's CEO accused the EPA of overreaching.

“The steps taken by the EPA to date have gone well outside of its normal practice, have been biased throughout, and have been unduly influenced by environmental advocacy organizations," CEO Tom Collier said in a press release.

Get the Story:
EPA starts process that could restrict Pebble Mine (AP 2/28)
EPA to protect Bristol Bay salmon fishery in move that could lead to Pebble mine veto (The Anchorage Daily News 3/1)
EPA takes step toward restricting Pebble Mine project on Alaska’s Bristol Bay (The Washington Post 3/1)
E.P.A. Says It Will Fight Mine Project in Alaska (The New York Times 3/1)

An Opinion:
Editorial: EPA goes too far on Pebble mine: Agency’s decision to use rare review procedure against project is concerning (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 3/1)

Related Stories:
EPA finds major risk in mine opposed by Alaska Natives (1/16)
Firm pulls out of controversial mine opposed by Alaska Natives (9/17)
New EPA leader visits controversial Pebble Mine site in Alaska (08/28)
New leader of EPA considers trip to Pebble Mine site in Alaska (8/2)
Opinion: Pebble Mine brings development to Native villages (07/22)
Callan J. Chythlook-Sifsof: Native subsistence under threat (06/28)