EPA Restriction Withdrawal Proposed for Pebble Mine

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials says that they are proposing to withdraw their July 2014 Clean Water Act proposed determination for the Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed.
That determination would, if finalized, impose restrictions on the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the mine.

EPA agreed to initiate the proposed withdrawal as part of a May 11, 2017 settlement agreement with the Pebble Limited Partnership.The matter is to be posted by mid-July in the Federal Register, after which the EPA has set a 90-day period for public comment on the proposed withdrawal of those restrictions. All comments must be received on or before the end of that timeframe.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said on June 27 that she had raised concerns with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that a public comment period during the midst of the commercial fishing season would not allow enough time for all relevant stakeholders to weigh in. Murkowski said she requested the 90-day comment period to allow for local stakeholders to be heard in the process.

The Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) is urging the EPA to extend the comment period to no less than 120 days and to hold hearings in the Bristol Bay region, so its residents can express their opinions.

“Thousands of fishermen and women are currently in Bristol Bay participating in what is proving to be a tremendously successful commercial fishing season,” said Jason Metrokin, chief executive officer of BBNC, “That the EPA is now proposing to withdraw potential protections for this world class billion-dollar resource is not sound economic or environmental policy.”

More information, including the pre-publication Federal Register Notice announcing the public comment period, is available online at https://www.epa.gov/bristolbay

Comments may be emailed to: ow-docket@epa.gov with docket number EPA-R10-OW-2017-0369 in the subject line.