Aerial view in Alaska's Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay North America's most intact wild salmon system © Bridget Besaw/TNC


Murkowski Supports Improved Scientific Review of Pebble

Bristol bay salmon and communities deserve a future safe from risk.

Anchorage, AK

  • Stephanie Holthaus
    Media Contact
    The Nature Conservancy in Alaska

The Nature Conservancy in Alaska applauds U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for addressing the urgent need for credible scientific review of large-scale mining in Bristol Bay.

This is a critical moment for Bristol Bay, its fishery resource and local communities. A federal environmental review of the proposed Pebble mine is currently ongoing, yet science experts from government and other organizations have raised serious questions about the process currently administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Murkowski crafted report language for the 2020 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill that requests more scientific review of the mine proposed for the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. In particular, the report language recognizes the concerns expressed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the State of Alaska and other independent experts, as well as confirming agencies’ regulatory authority regarding the proposed mine.

“Our own scientific review at The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has raised major questions about the adequacy of the Pebble draft environmental impact statement prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” says Steve Cohn, Alaska state director for The Nature Conservancy. “We continue to stand with the many voices in Bristol Bay who formally requested that the serious shortcomings in the draft EIS be addressed in a complete scientific review.”

Specifically, TNC recommends that criteria for permitting large mine developments in Bristol Bay should ensure minimal loss of salmon habitat; minimal alteration of stream and groundwater flows; no need for active water quality treatment post-closure to avoid contamination; and, use of technology that has been proven effective to prevent acid mine discharge at appropriate sites and scales.

Bristol Bay is a region of critical global, regional, and local significance for people and nature. Alaska’s Bristol Bay is the last fully intact wild salmon system in North America. It supports a commercial fishery valued at $1.5 billion annually. The cherished way of life and traditional culture it sustains has a value that is simply beyond measure. Bristol Bay’s healthy lands and waters are a world-class destination for travelers from around the world.

TNC has been a partner with the people and organizations of Bristol Bay for more than 20 years, working to build broad sustainability for fisheries through science and community investment. 

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 or follow @nature_press on Twitter.