EPA proposes to withdraw CWA restrictions for Pebble Mine

Time to put the boxing gloves back on…

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to withdraw its July 2014 Clean Water Act Proposed Determination that would, if finalized, have imposed restrictions on the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the potential “Pebble Mine” in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. EPA is seeking public comment on whether to withdraw the Proposed Determination.

EPA is consulting on the proposed withdrawal with federally-recognized tribal governments of the Bristol Bay region and with Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Regional and Village Corporations with lands in the Bristol Bay watershed. The public comment and tribal consultation process allows EPA to hear from the public before final decisions are made. After the close of the public comment and tribal consultation process, the EPA will decide whether to issue a final withdrawal of the 2014 Proposed Determination. EPA is also requesting public comment on whether the EPA Administrator should review and reconsider a final withdrawal decision, if such a decision is made.

Here’s what TU Alaska and their supporters had to say about it…

‘No Free Pass’ say Alaskans to Pebble Mine backers

ANCHORAGE, AK – Anglers, hunters and the dozens of sport-fishing business owners that operate in the Bristol Bay region and Alaskans are extremely disappointed by today’s announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to withdraw the July 2014 Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Proposed Determination that, if finalized, would have applied up-front restrictions on mining activities that harm salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed.

Brian Kraft owner of Alaska Sportsman’s Lodges replied with the following statement:

“It’s absurd that the EPA and our elected officials are bending over backwards to appease a foreign mining company at the expense of good-paying Alaskan jobs.  Alaskans have made it clear time and again that developing the Pebble Mine in the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery is a terrible idea.   Just look at the salmon pouring into these rivers right now….that’s money for businesses and communities, that’s food for our families.  Pebble will always be a bad idea.”

Nanci Morris Lyon owner of Bear Trail Lodge and resident of King Salmon, Alaska replied

“It is incredibly disappointing that leaders in Washington D.C. are turning their backs on hard working Alaskans.  Bristol Bay salmon are what make our communities and local economy hum this time of year.  People come from all over the world to experience this fishery. The 11 billion tons of waste that Pebble Mine would produce risks salmon and thousands of jobs and businesses. That’s clearly putting Alaskans and American resources last.”

Nelli Williams of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program in Anchorage replied with the following statement:

“The action today shows that the EPA is extremely out of touch with Alaskans and hunters and anglers across the country.  Americans submitted more than 1.5 million comments to the EPA in opposition to the Pebble Mine.  We will continue to work with Alaskans and hunters and anglers around the country until Bristol Bay’s salmon, jobs and communities are safe.  Pebble will not get a free pass.”

During the EPA’s peer reviewed scientific assessment and review of the threats posed by the proposed Pebble Mine to Bristol Bay’s world-class fisheries, 99 percent of all individuals who submitted comments were in favor of up-front protections for the Bristol Bay region.  Bristol Bay supports thousands of American jobs, a commercial fishing industry valued at $1.5 billion per year and is a dream vacation destination for hunters and anglers around the world.

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