Those hoping for permanent protection on the Bristol Bay region from mining projects are hoping to get good news tomorrow when the Environmental Protection Agency could provide a final answer to a years’ long fight to prevent the Pebble project from ever coming to fruition. Here’s a preview from Alaska Public Media:
The EPA is exercising a rarely used authority under the Clean Water Act, commonly called its “veto authority.” Some Bristol Bay tribes have pushed for this action since 2010. Agency officials declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a statement said the mine could harm fish spawning and breeding areas and that vetoing the mine would protect fisheries and a traditional way of life based on wild salmon.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Pebble’s mining permit two years ago, but the company appealed that decision. Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole said the EPA is not following normal protocol by using this Clean Water Act authority before the appeal has even been processed.
“We continue to say that it is largely unlawful and unprecedented, what the EPA is attempting to do regarding this project,” he said.
Heatwole said the company may take this fight to the courts. But the EPA’s use of this authority reflects its serious concerns about the mine’s impact on the region, according to Joel Reynolds with the Natural Resources Defence Council.
Bristol Bay leaders are expecting to hold a press conference on Tuesday morning anticipating a decision.