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EPA decision anticipated on mine opposed by Alaska Natives

Native youth in the Bristol Bay, Alaska, area participate in a protest against the Pebble Mine. Photo from Facebook

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to decide in the coming months whether to veto a proposed gold mine that has generated significant controversy in Alaska.

Last March, the EPA initiated a Clean Water Act review of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay. The outcome of the rarely-used Section 404(c) process could result in a veto of the Pebble Mine even before it receives full consideration.

"This really is one of the last best places,” EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran told The Washington Post. “This is an undisturbed watershed and an incredible economic powerhouse that supports both a large commercial industry and a subsistence fishery.”

Alaska tribes are fighting the project because they fear it will harm the salmon fishery. Non-Native groups, including fishermen and environmentalists, also oppose what would be one of the world's largest gold mining operations.

Like another controversial energy project under review by the Obama administration, a Canadian company is behind the Pebble Partnership. The company has yet to file a permit for the mine but has accused the EPA of bias and of overstepping its bounds.

A lawsuit filed by the company in federal court has temporarily prevented the EPA from moving forward with the 404(c) process, according to a notice that was filed in the Federal Register on January 29.

Get the Story:
In EPA’s expected ‘veto’ of Pebble Mine in Alaska, foes see a vein of overreach (The Washington Post 2/16)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Status Update on the Proposed Determination for the Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska (January 29, 2015)

Related Stories:
Robert Heyano: Alaska tribes battle mine to protect way of life (6/27)
EPA takes step that could block mine opposed by Alaska Natives (3/3)
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)

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