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Groups Applaud EPA Restriction Plan on Pebble Mine

Jul 18, 2014 11:31 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a detailed plan for restricting mine waste disposal from the proposed Pebble gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed to the delight of numerous groups. Earthworks, which has led a long campaign to protect Bristol Bay, said that Alaskan native tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the EPA in 2010, asking the agency to use its power under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect the natural fishery by restricting harmful mine waste disposal.

Jewelers, private investors and conservation groups have long supported a restricted approach. Earthworks stated that of the 890,000 public comments received by the EPA on its study of Pebble mine's potential impact, 98 percent of Bristol Bay comments, 85 percent of Alaska comments and 73 percent of national comments supported EPA action to protect Bristol Bay.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’re happy to see the EPA complete the next major step in protecting the Bristol Bay salmon fishery,” said Luki Akelkok, the chairman of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of 10 Bristol Bay native tribes and village corporations. “Our culture and economy depend on the long-term health of these salmon runs.”

Michael J. Kowalski, the chairman and CEO of Tiffany & Co., said, “As a jeweler whose business depends on precious metals, and therefore mining, we have nevertheless long opposed the development of new mines that threaten areas of high ecological and cultural value. We applaud the EPA for taking this vital next step under the Clean Water Act to safeguard Bristol Bay and the communities and fishery it supports.”

Jennifer Krill, the executive director of Earthworks, added, “We asked the EPA to step in to protect our fishery from the Pebble mine because the state of Alaska wasn’t listening to us. The future of our people and 14,000 jobs are at risk. We’re glad the EPA is doing its job.”

The EPA completed a study of the potential impact to the salmon fishery in Bristol Bay in January 2014 and found that mining development  would likely result in significant and irreversible harm to the salmon and the people and industries that rely on them.

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Tags: Alaska, Earthworks, environment, epa, gold, Jeff Miller, Pebble Mine
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