EPA’s New Proposal Limits Could Scuttle Pebble Mine Project

The Environmental Protection Agency made a new proposal that could threaten the Pebble Mine project at Bristol Bay. Opponents to the mine point to Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery, and the EPA has come to the area’s defense and opposed the project.

Opponents of the Pebble Mine have some new hope with the EPA's latest proposal. (CHRIS COCOLES)
Opponents of the Pebble Mine have some new hope with the EPA’s latest proposal. (CHRIS COCOLES)

 

Here’s a portion of the EPA’s latest report:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 is requesting public comment on a proposed  determination to restrict the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed for disposal of dredged
or fill material associated with mining the Pebble deposit, a large ore body in southwest Alaska. EPA
Region 10 is taking this step because of the high ecological and economic value of the Bristol Bay watershed and the assessed unacceptable environmental effects that would result from such mining.
This proposed determination relies on clear EPA authorities under the Clean Water Act (CWA), and is based on peer-reviewed scientific and technical information. Its scope is geographically narrow and it
does not affect other deposits or mine claim holders outside of those affiliated with the Pebble deposit.
EPA Region 10 is taking this step pursuant to Section 404(c) of the CWA and its implementing regulations at 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 231.
Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed (Figure ES-1) is an area of unparalleled ecological value, boasting salmon diversity and productivity unrivaled anywhere in North America. As a result, the region is a globally
significant resource with outstanding value. The Bristol Bay watershed provides intact, connected habitats—from headwaters to ocean—that support abundant, genetically diverse wild Pacific salmon
populations. These salmon populations, in turn, maintain the productivity of the entire ecosystem, including numerous other fish and wildlife species.

 

The Nushagak River is one of Bristol Bay's vital salmon spawning grounds that opponents of the Pebble Mine fear could be affected by mining. (BRIAN LULL)
The Nushagak River is one of Bristol Bay’s vital salmon spawning grounds that opponents of the Pebble Mine fear could be affected by mining. (BRIAN LULL)

The Los Angeles Times  had a report on the report:

EPA officials said they would prohibit any discharges or dredging from the planned Pebble Mine above Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay that would result in significant destruction or alteration of salmon-bearing streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds.

Plans for mining copper, gold and molybdenum by the Pebble Limited Partnership call for an open pit operation nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon that would result in “excavation of almost unfathomable amounts of rock,” EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran told reporters.

Even the most limited version of the project studied by the federal agency would dig up enough matter “to fill one of the largest professional football stadiums more than 880 times,” McLerran said Friday. “Quality salmon habitat is at a premium, and we can ill afford to lose so much of it at the headwaters of our greatest remaining fishery.”

 

 

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