Temporary Block of Bristol Bay Mining

On March 5, 2014, the EPA used its “veto authority” from Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act to temporarily block mining permits. For the past three years, the EPA has been studying the potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine on the Bristol Bay ecology, especially the salmon. The EPA released the final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment in January but waited until now to take a stance and act upon it. Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that “the EPA is taking a significant step forward in our efforts to insure that the world’s most productive salmon fishery is safe from the risks that it faces from what could be one of the largest mines on earth” . The EPA decided that Bristol Bay was a unique and important enough ecosystem to warrant thisĀ  action, but McCarthy also stressed that this initial blocking of permits is temporary and, while it starts off the process towards permanent protection, the 404(c) process may take over a year to complete. It will involve more public input through comment periods, hearings, and consultations, and will also include spokespeople from the Pebble Mine in discussions. The decision has been praised by fishermen, environmentalists, and local native groups but criticized by the mining industry and various Alaskan politicians as an overreach of federal power.


This exercise of the EPA’s authority may make it seem like the future of the Pebble Mine has been decided, but really this is a step towards more open debate that will hopefully lead towards a positive and well-accepted policy agreement.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-sohn/epa-moves-to-block-pebble-mine_b_4904749.html

Photo: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/inuit-kids-march-in-streets-to-protest-pebble-bay-mine-in-alaska.html

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