Jul 212014

EPA is proposing restrictions on the Pebble mine in Alaska to protect the Bristol Bay watershed, a development that The Pebble Partnership said was tantamount to a denial of due process.

“While today’s announcement from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 is only a proposal at this time, we are pleased to note the agency has rejected requests to preemptively veto the Pebble Project in favor of imposing specific conditions on future development," Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier said.

“That said, we believe that EPA does not have the statutory authority to impose conditions on development at Pebble, or any development project anywhere in Alaska or the US, prior to the submission of a detailed development plan and its thorough review by federal and state agencies, including review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."

But EPA said "science has shown that development of this mine, which is backed by Northern Dynasty Minerals and the Pebble Limited Partnership, would be one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world and would threaten one of the world’s most productive salmon fisheries. EPA Region 10 is seeking public comments on the proposal," the agency said in its news release:

Based on scientific analysis, EPA Region 10 proposes to restrict all discharge of dredged or fill material related to mining the Pebble deposit that would result in any or all of the following:

  • Loss of streams: The loss of five or more miles of streams with documented salmon occurrence (coho, Chinook, sockeye, chum, pink); or the loss of 19 or more miles of streams where salmon are not documented, but that are tributaries of streams with documented salmon occurrence
  • Loss of wetlands, lakes, and ponds: The loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes, and ponds that connect with streams with documented salmon occurrence or tributaries of those streams
  • Streamflow alterations: Streamflow alterations greater than 20 percent of daily flow in nine or more linear miles of streams with documented salmon occurrence

"According to EPA analyses, losses of the nature and magnitude listed above would be unprecedented for the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program in the Bristol Bay region, as well as the rest of Alaska and perhaps the nation," the agency said.


News coverage | Mining.com  | Seattle Times (AP coverage by Becky Bohrer) | FIS | The Hill (blog)

Bristol Bay (EPA information)

Pebble Partnership

Save Bristol Bay website

Previous coverage (2/28/14) and from 1/15/2014