EPA proposes to veto Pebble Mine to protect salmon-rich Bristol Bay

A swampy flat area with rolling hills in the background
Area of the proposed Pebble Mine. (Jason Sear/KDLG)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing safety for the Bristol Bay watershed that might completely ban the Pebble Mine.

The EPA introduced the proposed ban Wednesday morning, utilizing its authority below a bit of the Clean Water Act referred to as 404(c). It’s the “veto” of Pebble that fishermen and tribes within the Bristol Bay area have requested for years. 

“Where that mine is is the spawning beds of the greatest salmon-producing rivers in the world,” Curyung tribal chief Tom Tilden stated earlier this month on the U.S. Capitol. He’d gone there to press for a mine veto, as he and others have accomplished many instances earlier than.

The firm searching for to construct the open-pit gold and copper mine, Pebble Limited Partnership, has stated it could enrich the area with good salaries and different revenue. 

It has repeatedly argued that its state-of-the-art mine design may have no important impact on Bristol Bay’s fish run.

EPA’s new Region 10 administrator, Casey Sixkiller, doesn’t see it that method.

“Two decades of scientific study show us that mining the Pebble Deposit would cause permanent damage to an ecosystem that supports a renewable economic powerhouse and has sustained fishing cultures since time immemorial,” Sixkiller stated within the EPA information launch saying the proposal.

As an instance, the EPA notes that the mine plan requires destroying 8.5 miles of fish streams.

The EPA motion can be much like the veto the Obama administration proposed in 2014. That one was referred to as a “pre-emptive veto” as a result of it got here earlier than the Pebble Partnership had submitted its allow software.

During the Trump presidency, Pebble lastly submitted a mine plan. But the Republican-led authorities appeared to be of two minds. The EPA took steps towards dismantling the Obama administration’s boundaries to mine growth however reversed course, after which reversed course once more.

Ultimately, in late 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble’s allow software to dredge and fill within the space. Pebble is interesting that call.

The EPA’s newest proposal is broader. If made last, it could ban any dredging or filling of federal waters and wetlands in service of mining the Pebble Deposit, at the least inside the footprint of the mine plan Pebble drafted.

The EPA’s proposed ban shall be revealed within the Federal Register this week and would be the topic of public hearings subsequent month. The company will settle for written feedback by means of July 5.

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