“Back Bristol Bay” Full Page Ads Launch

Ads are running in Alaska, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. during EPA’s open public comment period on its Clean Water Act proposal for Bristol Bay 

A broad-based coalition of groups representing millions of supporters are running full-page ads urging the public to support EPA action to protect Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine. The ad is running today in the Bristol Bay Times. It will also run in the New York Times, Politico, Seattle Times, Anchorage Daily News, and Juneau Empire this week and next.   

“Back Bristol Bay,” reads the headline. “Your Name Can Stop Pebble Mine,” says the tagline. “Tell EPA to Finish the Job.” 

The ad urges the public not to back down during EPA’s open comment period on its revised Proposed Determination for Bristol Bay under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. 

If finalized, EPA’s revised Proposed Determination would: 

  1. Prohibit the construction and operation of the Pebble Mine (as proposed in Pebble’s 2020 Mine Plan).  

  1. Restrict future mining of the Pebble deposit if the harmful impacts would be similar or greater than Pebble’s 2020 Mine Plan.  

This is a great step forward in the 404(c) process and huge milestone for the decades-long campaign to stop the Pebble Mine and safeguard Bristol Bay. 

EPA is currently taking public comments and hosting public hearings on the proposal. Hearing are today in Dillingham, Alaska; tonight online via Zoom; and tomorrow in Newhalen, Alaska. EPA will also accept written comments through July 5th.  This is the last chance for the public to weigh in during EPA’s Clean Water Act 404(c) process.  

Lasting safeguards for Bristol Bay are needed to protect the economic and cultural lifeblood of the region: its salmon. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery, generating $2.2 billion annually, supporting 15,000 jobs, supplying 57% of the world’s sockeye salmon, and sustaining Alaska Native communities that have thrived there since time immemorial.  

This area of unparalleled economic and ecological value is so special that even the Trump administration denied Pebble Mine’s Clean Water Act permit, concluding that the mine would result in “significant degradation” to the aquatic resources of Bristol Bay and was “contrary to the public interest.” 

Yet the Pebble Limited Partnership continues to appeal that denial and double-down on delusions of grandeur. The specter Pebble Mine will haunt Bristol Bay until EPA issues permanent protections for its headwaters under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. 

Bristol Bay Tribes first petitioned EPA to use its 404(c) authority in 2010, which prompted a three-year, twice-peer reviewed scientific assessment of the risk to Bristol Bay from large-scale mining. In 2014, EPA issued a Proposed Determination to block the Pebble Mine, but, after years of litigation brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership, it was never finalized. In 2019, the Trump administration reversed and withdrew the 2014 Proposed Determination. Bristol Bay Tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups – including NRDC – challenged the Trump administration’s illegal withdrawal, and, in 2021, a federal judge reinstated the 2014 Proposed Determination. EPA then reinitiated the 404(c) process and updated its Proposed Determination to reflect information that has become available since the agency’s 2014 proposal—including new scientific analyses and the Pebble Limited Partnership’s 2020 Mine Plan.

EPA has invited public comment on its current proposal and needs to hear from you

Stand with the Tribes and communities of Bristol Bay in support of comprehensive and durable Clean Water Act protections for the regions’ headwaters.  

Urge EPA to finalize strong 404(c) protections for Bristol Bay before the end of the year. 

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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