by Daysha Eaton
In a surprise announcement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suspending its effort to reverse environmental protections for the Bristol Bay Watershed. That is a blow to the Pebble Mine proposed for southwest Alaska. Mine opponents praised the EPA’s actions.
“The fact that the Trump Administration is choosing to keep them in place and keep them on the shelf is a recognition Pebble Mine is too toxic–too toxic even for the Trump Administration,” said Alannah Hurley with the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a group formed to fight the Pebble Mine.
The mine would be located about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and roughly 100 miles upstream from one of the world’s most important sockeye salmon fisheries.
In a press release, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the Bristol Bay fisheries deserve protection and that the proposed Pebble mine may pose an unacceptable risk. The announcement is a retreat from the Trump Administration’s pattern of doing away with stricter Obama-era environmental guidelines.
A spokesperson for Pebble Limited Partnership declined to comment and instead directed queries to a prepared press release. In the written statement, Pebble CEO Tom Collier said the EPA announcement does not change the company’s approach.
“We believe we can demonstrate that we can responsibly construct and operate a mine at the Pebble Deposit that meets Alaska’s high environmental standards,” Collier said in the press release. “We will also demonstrate that we can successfully operate a mine without compromising the fish and water resources around the project. We look forward to having all of our detailed technical information fairly reviewed by the Corps of Engineers and other participating regulatory agencies through the longstanding, lawful permitting process.”