Photo courtesy of Justin Crump and Kate Taylor.
What’s Happening: Powerful international mining interests want to develop the world’s largest open-pit mine, Pebble Mine, in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. A diverse coalition of sportsmen, Alaska natives and industry members have urged the EPA to leverage its authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to prevent the development of large-scale mines like Pebble in Bristol Bay. Yet the Pebble Partnership just won a temporary injunction that has put the brakes on the EPA’s CWA process for the foreseeable future.
What’s at Stake: The Bristol Bay region encompasses irreplaceable populations of fish (including this Chinook salmon from the Naknek River) and wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, caribou, moose and the largest sockeye salmon run in the world. Right now, the future of Bristol Bay and its remarkable salmon fishery remains a question mark. According to Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska Director Scott Hed, the Pebble Mine is “not dead yet.”
Also Worth Noting: In November 2014, Alaskans resoundingly passed a ballot initiative designed to give the legislature power to prohibit mining projects in the bay. Called “Bristol Bay Forever,” the measure was supported by two thirds of voters in the state.
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