The U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian mining company seeking to build a massive mine in the Bristol Bay watershed is appealing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denial of critical Clean Water Act permit for the project. According to John Shively, chief executive officer for the Pebble Project, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals in Vancouver, British Columbia, conclusions reached by the Corps are not supported by the record established in the final environmental impact statement for the project.
Shively contends that Pebble has a strong case in its appeal, and that the project would bring needed jobs and economic activity to the region and state.
Opponents like SalmonState, who support the Corps decision, say what’s needed is an Environmental Project Agency veto of the mine itself.
The first step, said SalmonState executive director Tim Bristol, is for the Biden administration to reestablish the Clean Water Act protections previously in place. The second step, said Bristol, is for Congress to protect the waters of Bristol Bay in perpetuity, as called for by Bristol Bay tribes and other organizations.
The controversy lies in the location of the proposed mine to Bristol Bay, home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. For the last six years alone, more than 50 million salmon have returned, much of the run to be harvested in a multi-million-dollar commercial fishery, as well as charter and other sport harvesters, and hundreds of subsistence fishermen who call the region home. The salmon resource is also critical to the abundant wildlife population.
The Pebble Partnership has maintained that the copper, gold and molybdenum mine can be built and operated in harmony with the fishery.
SalmonState, Trout Unlimited and United Tribes of Bristol Bay say the mine is not in the public interest and poses far too great a risk to Bristol Bay and all that it sustains. “The decision to deny Pebble’s permit was based on hundreds of thousands of public comments, a formal process upheld by Pebble itself, and clear science that shows the project cannot be built without destroying the clean water and abundant salmon populations that make the Bristol Bay region so special” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director of Trout Unlimited.