Reactions Keep Coming on Bristol Bay Watershed Draft Report

US Environmental Protection Agency draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed,
which concludes that large-scale mining operations would harm wild salmon habitat,
is continuing to get a cross-section of praise and criticism.
the EPA says the 339-page document is focused on a hypothetical mining scenario
using available public documents, its focus is clearly on evaluating what might
happen if a large-scale mine, such as the Pebble mine in the exploration phase at
the headwaters of Bristol Bay, is developed. 
brief excerpt from the report’s abstract says, “Based on this mine scenario, we
conclude that, at a minimum, mining at this scale would cause the loss of spawning
habitat for multiple species of anadromous and resident fish.”
study was undertaken at the request of tribal groups, environmentalists and several
entities engaged in the commercial salmon fishery, which produce nearly half of
the world’s sockeye salmon. They want the EPA to invoke a section of the Clean Water
Act to protect fishing habitat.
the other side, the Pebble Partnership, owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals of Vancouver,
British Columbia, and Anglo American plc, of London, has found allies in the state
of Alaska and others, including a group called Truth About Pebble, who feel the
mine should proceed to permitting. On May 15 the company announced plans to spend
some $107 million of Anglo American’s money this year to prepare the project for
permitting by year’s end. 
Partnership CEO John Shively issued a statement expressing concern that the EPA
“may use this rushed process as the basis for an unprecedented regulatory action
against the Pebble Project… Until we complete our work and submit an application
under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) the EPA’s work as it relates to our
project is based entirely on speculation,” he said.
project has the support of a nonprofit citizens’ organization called Truth About
Pebble, whose incorporators include Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.
eclectic group of opponents of the mine range from commercial and sport fishing
groups nationwide to Alaska Native tribal groups and environmental organizations,
including the National Parks Conservation Association.
science exists now to show that the proposed Pebble mine does not fit with a sustainable
future for Bristol Bay, and should not be allowed to proceed,” said Jason Metrokin,
president and chief executive officer of the Bristol Bay Native Corp.
is also weighing in.
Maria Cantwell, D-WA, called the draft document an important step toward protecting
wild Bristol Bay salmon and the thousands of Washington state jobs that rely on
Mark Begich, D-Alaska, meanwhile issued a statement saying he remains opposed to
any preemptive decision on the mine.
draft document can be downloaded at