Last Day To Comment To EPA About Bristol Bay Protections From Mining (Updating)

Today marks the end of the comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s requests to permanently implement protections from the Pebble Mine and other similar projects. Here are some press releases, starting with Earthworks:

Conservation and Consumer Advocacy Groups Call on EPA to Protect Bristol Bay SalmonOver 160,000 sign petition opposing controversial Pebble Mine Today Earthworks and SumOfUs submitted petitions with over 160,000 signatures asking the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay by restricting mine waste dumping in its headwaters. The petition submissions come at the close of a public comment period as the EPA considers using its Clean Water Act authority to protect the watershed and the world’s largest wild salmon fishery from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Salmon runs are central to the culture, lives and livelihoods of the people of Bristol Bay, sustaining the indigenous cultures that have lived in the area for millennia.  The Bristol Bay salmon fishery generates $2 billion in annual economic benefits, supports 15,000 local jobs and provides the world with a sustainable supply of wild salmon. A record-breaking 78 million salmon returned to Bristol Bay this year. 

“Bristol Bay is more than just home for the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery,” said Bonnie Gestring, Northwest Program Director at Earthworks. “It’s the lifeline for the people of Bristol Bay and all those who depend on its bounty. We’re so close to meaningful protection for this irreplaceable and invaluable treasure. We are honored to submit these petitions in support of the Bristol Bay Tribes and commercial fishermen, who have been asking for Bristol Bay protections for over a decade.”

At the center of this decision is the controversial Pebble Mine proposed for Bristol Bay’s headwaters. Two decades of scientific study have determined that the disposal of mine waste in Bristol Bay’s headwaters would cause irreparable harm. Although the Army Corps of Engineers rejected the mine’s permit, saying that it would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts” and it would be “contrary to the public interest,” Northern Dynasty, the Canadian company behind the mine, appealed the decision. 

“Consumers want to know that the world’s largest source of wild sockeye salmon will be protected far into the future,” said Angus Wong of SumOfUs. “SumOfUs members have been calling for the rejection of this salmon-killing mine since 2013. Our expectation is that this administration will put the final nail in the coffin.” 

Under the 404(c) process of the Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to prevent Pebble, and other potential large mining operations like it, from storing or disposing of mining waste in Bristol Bay’s headwaters. Advocates say the EPA’s action must protect several critical sub watersheds: the North Fork Koktuli, South Fork Koktuli and Upper Talarik Creek, all of which support the productivity of Bristol Bay’s wild salmon. As the agency weighs its options, Congress is considering a leaked bill draft that would curtail oversight requirements in the Clean Water Act and other bedrock environmental laws.
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.
Twitter: earthworks
Facebook: earthworksaction

Stop Pebble Mine:

It all comes down to this very moment. This is the last day to use your voice to urge the EPA to veto Pebble Mine.  

For decades we’ve raised our voices, compiled the science, and fought like hell to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine. Each and every one of you has been a part of this story. If you’re receiving this email, that means you’ve stepped up at some point. And maybe this time, you’re a part of the nearly half a million Americans who have taken action once again, calling on the EPA to protect Bristol Bay. If you have not taken action this summer, now is the time to do so!  

To try and encapsulate the full breadth of Bristol Bay’s story in this email would be an injustice to the sheer scale at which this battle has been fought and fail to capture even a hint of the time and energy put forth by all who have elected to take a stand. Over two decades, hundreds of millions of salmon have returned while millions of Americans have spoken up time and again against the Pebble Mine. We have not backed down.  

However, neither has Pebble Mine. They have spent millions of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists, questionable science, and more trying to wedge their way into this critical watershed. Their failures so far are evidence of our sustained, collective resistance. Now is not the time to stop that resistance. The task is simple; take action.

This story isn’t new. The threat of Pebble Mine is just one of countless manifestations of the will to dominate and consume our environment, overpowering any consideration for future social, environmental, and economic consequences. We’ve experienced this story countless times before and we know very well what’s at stake. Long after Pebble Mine, similar threats will continue to manifest, but so too will people continue to rise up in defense of what is right.

It’s the precedent we set today provides the fuel and confidence for all the future fights to come, which sends a message echoing across generations reminding them to never stop fighting…because sometimes you win.


Here’s the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Project:

Today is our last opportunity to speak up in support of new clean water safeguards for Bristol Bay proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

By finalizing Clean Water Act protections, we can ensure that the headwaters of Bristol Bay will remain safe from mine waste discharge and help prevent the threat of Pebble from returning in the future. I hope you’ll join me in telling the EPA that you support these commonsense measures to protect Bristol Bay’s world-renowned sockeye salmon fishery and pristine wildlife habitat. 

The public comment period closes today, Sept. 6.

Click here to submit an official comment; it should take you less than two minutes using our simple tool. 

Thank you for your continued support of Bristol Bay and Alaska’s public lands and waters. Wishing you good hunting and fishing this fall!


Jen Leahy

Alaska Field Representative
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Here’s United Tribes of Bristol Bay:

Bristol Bay Tribes, Communities Once Again Urge EPA to Permanently Protect Bristol Bay This Year

Dillingham, Alaska — Bristol Bay residents and Tribes voiced widespread support for Clean Water Act protections during the Environmental Protection Agency’s public comment period that ends today (Sept. 6), joining a record number of Alaskans urging the federal agency to protect Bristol Bay this year.

In late May, EPA released its revised proposed determination outlining potential Clean Water Act 404(c) protections that would prohibit and restrict mine waste as proposed in Pebble’s 2020 mine plan and opened a public comment period on those proposed safeguards.

In response, more than 2,500 Bristol Bay residents from nearly every Bristol Bay community submitted comments to the EPA supporting comprehensive Clean Water Act protections that would fully protect the headwaters of Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine and other mines like it. During EPA hearings held in Dillingham and Iliamna at the beginning of the fishing season, more than 98 percent of the testimony also supported protections. Altogether, more than 30,000 Alaskans supported EPA protections during this comment period, more than any of the prior EPA comment periods. In total, half a million Americans supported protections for Bristol Bay, contributing to more than 4 million comments supporting Bristol Bay protections over the past decade.

“During the busiest season of the year, amidst a record-breaking salmon run, the people of Bristol Bay once again made it clear that EPA must finalize strong protections for our watershed and end the threat of Pebble Mine for good,” said UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley. “Year after year, in every comment period and hearing held, over 95 percent of all comments and testimony call on the EPA to protect the pristine waters of Bristol Bay. Waters that sustain our indigenous way of life, provide half the world’s sockeye salmon, and contribute thousands of sustainable jobs year after year. The science and record are clear, EPA must finalize strong protections for our headwaters by the end of this year.”

The Clean Water Act process has several steps remaining before protections could be finalized. EPA will now consider public input and determine whether to forward a “recommended determination,” to EPA headquarters. Then, EPA headquarters will decide to either withdraw the proposed protections or proceed with a “final determination” that would finalize and formally enact the protections for Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay Tribes, regional organizations and supporters have urged the agency to finalize protections by the end of this year to end the decades-long threat for all those who depend on Bristol Bay’s lands and waters.

Bristol Bay Tribes first requested Clean Water Act protections in 2010, prompting several years of scientific study that concluded when the EPA started considering proposed protections in 2014. Those were stalled in court, then withdrawn by the Trump Administration. After a victorious legal appeal by mine opponents, the process was reinstated in the fall of 2021. The Biden Administration now has the opportunity to finalize the urgently needed protections that would safeguard the watershed.


United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a Tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.

From Bristol Bay Defense Fund:

Bristol Bay Defense Fund Celebrates More Than Half a Million Public Comments Urging EPA to Protect Bristol Bay, End the Threat of Pebble Mine Now 

(Dillingham, Alaska) — Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded its comment period on the Proposed Determination (PD) outlining potential protections for Bristol Bay. More than half a million people– including a record 30,000 Alaskans and 2,500 Bristol Bay residents–spoke out to once again resoundingly reject Pebble Mine. 

Over the last decade, and seven federal comment periods, Americans including Bristol Bay residents, Tribal members, commercial fishermen, sportfishermen, conservation advocates, chefs, investors, businesses, faith-based groups, and more have raised their voices nearly 4 million times to urge the EPA to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine. 

The end of the comment period brings the EPA one step closer to finalizing 404(c) Clean Water Act protections for the region. The federal agency will now consider public input and should release a Recommended Determination (RD), followed by a Final Determination, which provides comprehensive protections for the headwaters of Bristol Bay this year.

For more than a year, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund has called on the EPA to “Finish the Job” of protecting Bristol Bay by this summer’s fishing season. The clear and consistent call has been met with numerous delays to the 404(c) Clean Water Act process.  

In response, Tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups issued the following statements: 

“During the busiest season of the year, amidst a record-breaking salmon run, the people of Bristol Bay once again made it clear that EPA must finalize strong protections for our watershed and end the threat of Pebble Mine for good,” said UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley. “Year after year, in every comment period and hearing held, over 95 percent of all comments and testimony call on the EPA to protect the pristine waters of Bristol Bay. Waters that sustain our indigenous way of life, provide half the world’s sockeye salmon, and contribute thousands of sustainable jobs year after year. The science and record are clear, EPA must finalize strong protections for our headwaters by the end of this year.”

“While thousands of fishermen and processing workers were working hard to deliver a record-breaking 59.5 million wild sockeye salmon to the market, we also made the time to submit comments to the EPA on their Proposed Determination for the Bristol Bay region. Yet again, this pristine watershed has allowed us to feed the world, but as long as we are threatened by Pebble Mine, our industry suffers. We cannot allow one more fishing season to pass with the Pebble Mine looming over our heads. The EPA must take into account the hundreds of thousands of public comments from Tribes, fishermen, and members of the community and finalize Clean Water Act protections by the end of this year,” said Katherine Carscallen, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.

“It is no surprise that half a million people submitted comments to the EPA telling them to finalize Clean Water Act protections—especially after this summer’s record-breaking fishing season made it clear how important protecting this special place really is. Tribes, fishermen, and communities worldwide have shown up and supported durable protections for Bristol Bay every single time the EPA has asked us to. We’ve done our part; it’s now up to the EPA to finally finish the job and defend Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine,” said Tim Bristol, Executive Director of SalmonState.  

“EPA has a wealth of compelling reasons to veto the Pebble Mine,” said Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).  “This summer an all-time record of 78.4 million wild salmon returned to Bristol Bay, and over half a million people submitted comments demanding EPA action now. It’s time for the EPA to finish the job that it began over a decade ago to protect this national treasure—and the people and wildlife it sustains.”

Additional Information: 

On August 10, 2022, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the final daily run summary for the 2022 fishing season. An estimated 78.4 million sockeye salmon returned to the Bay and its rivers, breaking the previous record of 67.7 million sockeye salmon set in 2021. These record-breaking numbers are due to thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship and sustainable management that has kept the region unpolluted and pristine. 

Recently, 122 organizations representing millions of members sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. The letters urge these EPA leaders to promptly issue a Final Determination that provides comprehensive protections for Bristol Bay and the people who depend on it. 

For two decades, Tribal groups have led the fight to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine. If fully built, Pebble Mine would produce up to 10.2 billion tons of toxic waste that would remain on-site forever. Bristol Bay salmon sustains the cultural and spiritual identity of the tribes in the area, provides more than 50 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon, supports an economy valued at over $2.2 billion, and employs 15,000 people in commercial fishing, and thousands more in hunting, sportfishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism.