EPA Action Will Protect Bristol Bay’s Wildlife, Way of Life

“Bristol Bay is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse that feeds the world.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden Administration’s use of a Clean Water Act veto to block Pebble Mine is necessary to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, its salmon, and the jobs and communities it supports. 

“Bristol Bay is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse that feeds the world. Building a mine in this pristine system will never make sense,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud the Biden Administration for following the science and stepping up to protect Bristol Bay, its salmon, and the Tribal communities that depend on them.”

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Bristol Bay is home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world and the bay supports robust runs of four other salmon species as well. These salmon support 15,000 jobs and generate $1.2 billion in economic output nationwide. Tribal communities in the Bristol Bay region have subsisted on the bay’s salmon for thousands of years. 

In 2014, the EPA issued its first proposed determination for Pebble Mine, finding that the mine – which would have been 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. 

The veto power outlined in Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act allows EPA to block projects that will have unacceptable impacts on fisheries, wildlife, or recreation. The Clean Water Act veto has only been used three times in the 21st century.  


Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.


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