Bristol Bay fishing boats.
Way of Life Bristol Bay is the planet's largest wild salmon fishery. © Brian Adams

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EPA to Reinitiate Work on a Possible Veto of the Pebble Mine in Alaska

TNC applauds the use of the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the Justice Department will file a “Motion to Govern” in Alaska District Court to remand and vacate the Trump Administration’s 2019 withdrawal of the EPA’s 2014 Proposed Determination that the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska would violate the Clean Water Act. This is the first step towards reinitiating work on a possible 404(c) Clean Water Act veto of Pebble Mine.

In 2019, the Trump Administration withdrew the Proposed Determination, resulting in legal action by Tribal entities, non-profits, and fishing businesses on the grounds the decision violated both the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. In June 2021, the Ninth Circuit ruled the suit brought by the groups could proceed and remanded it back to the Alaska District Court.

The following is a statement by Steve Cohn, State Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Alaska chapter:

“Today’s announcement validates the importance of listening to both communities and science across Bristol Bay. Acknowledging the unique circumstances of the Proposed Determination and its unjustified withdrawal, we commend the EPA on its decision to work on a possible 404(c) veto of the Pebble Mine.

We know the Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place—communities have said this for years, and analysis by the Army Corps of Engineers reaches the same conclusion. We applaud today’s announcement and will continue to work with local Tribes, businesses, organizations, stakeholders, and Senator Murkowski to protect Bristol Bay, including through legislative efforts to ensure the permanence of such protections.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.