Tribal Groups Support EPA Authority in Lawsuit Over Pebble Mine

A tribal consortium from Alaska’s Bristol Bay region says it
plans to intervene in the Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the
Environmental Protection Agency challenging EPA’s authority to potentially stop
development of the Pebble mine.
United Tribes of Bristol Bay made the announcement from
Dillingham, in Southwest Alaska, this past week.
United Tribes had asked the EPA to use its authority under
section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act to blocks permits for the proposed
massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine.  Meanwhile, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell recently announced a decision to
join the lawsuit in support of the Pebble Partnership’s stand.
“The 404 (c) process over which the Pebble Partnership and
the Parnell Administration is suing is the very course that the United Tribes
of Bristol Bay, along with thousands of Alaskans, requested the EPA take in
efforts to protect our people and region from the harmful effects of
large-scale mining,” said Robert Heyano, a veteran commercial fisherman and
president of United Tribes. 
“By initiating a lawsuit, the Partnership shows continued
disregard for the scientific facts that prove this type of mining in Bristol
Bay will be devastating to our region, a continued disinterest in the open and
transparent public process we requested, and dismissal of the overwhelming
desire of the Bristol Bay communities.”
Thousands of commercial fish harvesters, sport anglers and
subsistence fishermen, and entities representing them have voiced concern that
development of the mine near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed could
result in devastatingly adverse impacts to the fishery, upon which fish
harvesters and regional wildlife are dependent. 
Mine advocates maintain that the mine can be constructed and operate in
harmony with the fishery.
The EPA earlier this year initiated efforts under the Clean
Water Act to identify what it called appropriate options to protect the Bristol
Bay sockeye salmon fishery. The Pebble mine, said the EPA, has the potential to
be one of the largest open pit copper mines ever developed and could threaten a
salmon resource rare in its quality and productivity.