Alaska U.S. Representative Peltola Introducing New Legislation To Protect Bristol Bay


Alaska’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mary Peltola (D), who has voiced her opposition to the Pebble Mine in the past, will introduce new legislation to offer more detailed protections for the Bristol Bay region from the Pebble project.

Here’s some reaction, starting with Trout Unlimited and Katmai Service Providers:

Legislation introduced to strengthen protections for Bristol Bay 

Representative Peltola seeks to Congressionally prohibit mine waste disposal in Pebble Mine area; anglers and business owners applaud step and urge continued bipartisan action to safeguard Bristol Bay.  

ANCHORAGE, AK —Today, U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) introduced legislation to strengthen the protections issued for the headwaters of Bristol Bay last year. The “Bristol Bay Protection Act” would further solidify the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that mining the Pebble deposit would have unacceptable adverse impacts on the fisheries, wildlife and recreational areas. The bill would congressionally prohibit the discharge of mine waste into rivers, lakes and wetlands that surround the Pebble deposit. Legislation would solidify these protective measures, making them more difficult to overturn in the future.  

“Clean Water Act 404(c) safeguards for the irreplaceable fisheries of Bristol Bay were widely celebrated by Alaskans and advocates across the nation,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “This is a significant step to further strengthen these common-sense protective measures.” 

“Bristol Bay’s fishery and surrounding resources provide 15,000 jobs and over $2 billion in economic activity to the region,” said Brian Kraft, Bristol Bay lodge owner and president of Katmai Service Providers, an organization of commercial operators dedicated to resource protection around Katmai National Park. “I am glad to see Representative Peltola taking action to ensure the well-being of our state and establish a legacy all Alaskans can be proud of by protecting this critical resource.”  

“The Pebble Partnership and its allies continue to relentlessly push for a mine that a majority of Alaskans, local Tribes, sportsmen and women, and three presidential administrations have questioned and rejected,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited. “This legislation is a good step forward and we commend Representative Peltola for recognizing that more durable safeguards for Bristol Bay are needed. I’m hopeful this is just the first building block of bipartisan legislation that helps Bristol Bay and its families, fish, wildlife and jobs continue to thrive. Safeguarding Bristol Bay has been one of only a handful of issues that people can agree on — now we need to work together to get it done.”    

“I thought that I could finally fully focus on running our business without the constant worry of Pebble Mine on the horizon,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, owner of Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska.  “But the lawsuits brought by the State of Alaska and Pebble Partnership threaten to erase the good protections for our fish and wildlife that local people have long advocated for. We can’t stop until durable, watershed-wide safeguards are put in place, and Representative Peltola’s legislation is a good start in that direction.”  

This bill comes just weeks after Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian mining corporation behind Pebble Mine, and the State of Alaska challenged 404(c) protections for Bristol Bay’s headwaters in court with four separate lawsuits. The “Bristol Bay Protection Act” would further insulate Clean Water Act safeguards from future frivolous lawsuits.  


Trout Unlimited, the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization, is dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams, so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear river restoration expertise, local, regional, and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy far into the future through our local chapters and staff across the state.  

Katmai Service Providers represents 64 Alaska fishing, hunting, bear viewing and tourism businesses that operate in the Bristol Bay region. The group is dedicated to resource protection through stewardship, promoting public access, fostering cooperation among users, participating in future development planning, promoting safety and education and enhancing Katmai National Park recreational activities. Brian Kraft is the president of the KSP and the owner of two sportfishing lodges in southwest Alaska, one in Igiugig, Alaska and one near Dillingham, Alaska.  

And from ARC Initiatives, which represents several Bristol Bay businesses:

Representative Peltola’s Bill to Protect Bristol Bay is Welcomed by Tribes, Commercial Fisherman, Conservation Groups

The Bristol Bay Protection Act Will Codify EPA’s Decision to Protect Bristol Bay from the threat of the Pebble Mine

(Dillingham, Alaska) —Today, Congresswoman Mary Peltola (D-AK) introduced the Bristol Bay Protection Act (bill text to come), a bill to codify the 404(c) Clean Water Act final determination that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued last year to end the threat of the proposed Pebble Mine due to the adverse risks it poses to Bristol Bay’s waters and the surrounding ecosystem. 

The introduction of this bill comes just weeks after Northern Dynasty Minerals and Pebble Limited Partnership filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court of Alaska challenging the EPA’s Clean Water Act Final Determination, a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Claims which alleged the EPA’s veta constituted an illegal “taking” of their property, and months after the State of Alaska filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA in the Supreme Court.

The 404(c) final determination was a hard-won victory for Bristol Bay Tribes and community members, thousands of people—including commercial and sport fishers, businesses, chefs, and others—whose lives and livelihoods depend on the thriving fishery, and millions more who are fed by Bristol Bay salmon from coast to coast and around the globe. This bill, if signed into law, is an important step toward ensuring that this special place, fishery, and community remains protected from the Pebble Mine. 

People from all across Alaska and the nation—including the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, local Tribes and municipalities, village corporations, dozens of NGOs and nonprofits, commercial fishermen, sportsmen, businesses, chefs, and more—are united in support behind EPA’s Clean Water Act protections, which are based on a robust scientific and technical record that spans two decades. 

In response to the introduction of the Bristol Bay Protection Act, Tribes, commercial and sport fishers, and conservation groups released the following statements: 

“We are grateful that Congresswoman Peltola has introduced a bill to ensure that protections for Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine are codified into law. The Tribes in the region whose way of life, cultures, and traditions are inextricably linked to the health and prosperity of the Bristol Bay watershed and ecosystem deserve the peace of mind and reassurance that the threat of the Pebble Mine will not return again. We look forward to working with our leaders in Congress to ensure that Bristol Bay and its pristine waters will continue to support abundant salmon runs and our subsistence resources for years to come,” said Delores Larson, Deputy Director of United Tribes for Bristol Bay. 

“The record-breaking salmon returns and the livelihoods they support in Bristol Bay aren’t seen anywhere else in the world, and they depend on Bristol Bay’s watershed remaining pristine and unpolluted. Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s Bristol Bay Protection Act would codify EPA’s Clean Water Act protections for this ecosystem that we fought for decades to secure. This bill, if signed into law, will ensure that the men and women who fish in Bristol Bay can continue to provide over half the world’s wild sockeye supply sustainably each summer, without the threat of the Pebble Mine looming overhead” said Katherine Carscallen, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.

“Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon runs depend on the watershed remaining healthy and Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s bill is a great step forward, offering a crucial opportunity to secure lasting protection from the Pebble Mine. Congress must codify EPA’s 404(c) Clean Water Act protections for the world’s most productive and profitable wild salmon fishery as soon as possible,” said Tim Bristol, Executive Director of SalmonState.

“This bill responds to the calls of Bristol Bay Tribes and communities, joined overwhelmingly by Alaskans, fishermen, conservation groups, scientists, businesses, and people the world over,” said Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Together, we have fought for more than a decade to stop the Pebble Mine and defend Bristol Bay from a Canadian mining company that has stalked the region’s communities for a generation. Without congressional action, the only certainty for Bristol Bay’s future will continue to be the inevitable pressure for large-scale mining in its headwaters, despite extraordinary efforts to preserve this national treasure forever.”