National Sportsmen's Contingent Wants Bristol Bay Protected
Posted 4.20.12 by Renewable Resources Coalition
It's a busy week for the Pebble Mine Debate as more groups join in opposition to the Pebble Mine and work to protect the world's largest wild salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
A contingent of hunting and sport fishing leaders from 17 states is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to implement the Clean Water Act to keep mining disposal sites out of the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed.
The message to the EPA and others whom the group was meeting with this week in Washington D.C. is “this is an issue that runs the political spectrum,” and that Bristol Bay “is not only an incredibly beautiful place, but it is a job producer,” said Tim Bristol, Alaska program director for Trout Unlimited, one of 513 hunting and angler groups represented by the group.
Bristol Bay, the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, supports millions of dollars annually in commercial fishing, sport fishing and tourism jobs.
Opponents of the mine contends that construction and operation of the proposed massive mine at that location would produce up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine wastes that would have to be treated and stored in perpetuity.
Bristol, speaking from Juneau, said the idea is to create a strong impression with federal agencies and Congress that this is a strong bipartisan issue of national concern.
As the EPA works to complete by May 1 its report on the Bristol Bay watershed assessment, proponents and opponents of development of the Pebble copper, gold and molybdenum prospect in Southwest Alaska have stepped up their activities.
As opponents of the mine were visiting with various officials in Washington D.C., the Pebble Partnership released on its website an article on the state’s letter asking the EPA to cease its work on the Bristol Bay watershed assessment and to refrain from exercising its section 404c authority under the Clean Water Act. The lengthy letter contends that the EPA’s action is “unlawfully preemptive, premature, arbitrary, capricious and vague.”
The Pebble Partnership, which contends that mining and fishing can co-exist in Bristol Bay, also notes on its website that the mining industry has produced millions of dollars of revenue in Alaska.
The EPA has since responded, to the state’s letter, noting its authority to proceed with the assessment, which was requested nearly two years ago by tribal organizations, commercial fishermen and other stakeholders. EPA Region 10 administrator Dennis McLerran said that the watershed assessment clearly falls within the obligations and authorities provided in Section 104 of the Clean Water Act.
By Margaret Bauman - Cordova Times