EPA Weighing Comments on Protections for Bristol Bay

In the wake of the Sept. 19 deadline to comment on proposed
protections for the Bristol Bay watershed under the Clean Water Act, the
Environmental Protection Agency has begun wading through thousands of
The EPA needs to review all the comments before issuing its
final determination before Feb. 4, 2015.
While the EPA is still counting the actual number of
responses, the national conservation organization Trout Unlimited says nearly
20,000 Alaskans were among those weighing in to support the EPA’s proposed
protections for the watershed, to prevent adverse effects from a large-scale metals
Including some 625,000 comments estimated from this year,
roughly 1.5 million comments have been sent to the EPA from around the country
and across the political spectrum during the three-year public review process
surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine.
“Alaskans and the rest of America have made it crystal clear
that they support the EPA’s efforts to utilize the Clean Water Act to protect
Bristol Bay’s unique and valuable natural resources,” said Tim Bristol,
director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program. “The science is in and the public
has spoken. We hope to see the EPA finalize these protections as quickly as
Sue Asplund, spokeswoman for the Bristol Bay Regional
Seafood Development Association, urged the EPA to move quickly, “to ensure our
fishermen can continue their businesses without this threat hanging over them.”
Supporters of the massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine,
which would be located near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, have
maintained that the mine and world-famous sockeye salmon fishery can co-exist
in harmony.
The Pebble Limited Partnership in Anchorage has urged its
supporters “to let the EPA know that their actions are not appropriate nor
should anything be done by the agency at this time – other than wait for the
Pebble Partnership to present a detailed mine plan, file for permits, and initiate
the state and federal permitting process.”

The Pebble project is the principal asset of Northern
Dynasty, a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified global mining
group headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, which holds indirect interests
in mineral claims on state land in Southwest Alaska.