WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden Administration’s plan to safeguard Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most important salmon fisheries and one of Alaska’s essential economic drivers, through the Clean Water Act is a historic victory for people and wildlife alike. The move would protect Bristol Bay by blocking the development of an enormous, risky copper mine upstream.
“Bristol Bay is an ecological jewel that sustains the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and an economic powerhouse that supports 13,000 jobs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We appreciate the Administration’s ongoing commitment to following the science as it moves to protect Bristol Bay for people and wildlife.”
All five species of salmon have robust runs up the pristine rivers and streams that feed into Bristol Bay and the bay’s abundant wildlife supports local and indigenous communities. Specifically, the bay is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, which supports 13,000 jobs and creates $1.5 billion in economic activity.
The Biden Administration has released a Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act that would prohibit construction of the proposed Pebble Mine, and is accepting public comment on the proposal.
In 2014, the EPA issued a proposed determination finding that the mine – which would be one of the largest copper mines in the world – could not be built safely, in part due to tailings ponds in a seismically active area filled with billions of gallons of toxic waste that would need to be actively maintained for thousands of years.
In 2019, the Trump Administration withdrew that determination as part of a court action. The Biden Administration is using Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act that allows the EPA to stop a project that would cause unacceptable harm to fisheries, wildlife habitat, or recreation areas.
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