Update: EPA seeks to protect Bristol Bay
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will seek options to protect the sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska, under the provisions of the Clean Water Act. The move takes place a month after the release of the EPA's final environmental assessment in Bristol Bay, which was released in January 2014.
Northern Dynasty, the owners of the Pebble Partnership, stand by their proposed development plan while promising to cooperate with the EPA throughout this next step of the process. In a press release issued on February 28 - the same day as the EPA release - Northen Dynasty President and CEO Ron Thiessen commented that "We will participate fully in EPA's process to consider necessary safeguards to ensure that responsible mineral development can co-exist with clean water and healthy fisheries in Bristol Bay, and we will continue our efforts to prepare for the NEPA permitting process to come." Northern Dynasty has previously questioned the scientific basis and methodology behind the EPA study, and has indicated their displeasure at what they perceive to be a violation of the regulatory process.
As expected, reaction from the sportfishing community has been positive. "As a trade association the American Sportfishing Association realizes this is a rare decision by the EPA," stated ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson in a press release. "Balancing business needs and the welfare of our nation's fishery and water resources frequently represents a challenge and the EPA's decision on Pebble Mine is no exception."
Why is the Pebble Mine partnership proposal such a big deal for recreational sportsmen? You can read up on the Pebble project and learn more about the Bristol Bay watershed here.