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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator and Region 10 Regional Administrator are announcing the EPA's decision not to withdraw at this time the EPA Region 10 July 2014 Proposed Determination that was issued pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act and EPA's implementing regulations. Today's notice suspends the proceeding to withdraw the Proposed Determination and leaves that Determination in place pending further consideration by the Agency of information that is relevant to the protection of the world-class fisheries contained in the Bristol Bay watershed. The Agency intends at a future time to solicit public comment on what further steps, if any, the Agency should take under Section 404(c) to prevent unacceptable adverse effects to the watershed's abundant and valuable fishery resources in light of the permit application that has now been submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


On July 19, 2017, EPA Region 10 published in the Federal Register (82 FR 33123) a notice of a proposal to withdraw its July 2014 Proposed Determination under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restrict the use of certain waters in the South Fork Koktuli River, North Fork Koktuli River, and Upper Talarik Creek watersheds (located within the larger Bristol Bay watershed) as disposal sites for dredged or fill material associated with mining the Pebble deposit, a copper-, gold- and molybdenum-bearing ore body. A Proposed Determination is the second step in EPA's four-step CWA Section 404(c) review process of: (1) Initiation, (2) Proposed Determination, (3) Recommended Determination, and (4) Final Determination (40 CFR part 231).


The July 19, 2017 (82 FR 33123), notice opened a public comment period that closed on October 17, 2017. EPA held two public hearings in the Bristol Bay watershed during the week of October 9, 2017. EPA also consulted with federally recognized tribal governments from the Bristol Bay region and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Regional and Village Corporations with lands in the Bristol Bay watershed on the Agency's proposal to withdraw.