House Democrats Fire Back on Pebble Mine

House Science, Space and Technology Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson sent a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt to underline the known environmental impacts of developing the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Photo credit: Robert Glenn Ketchum

Johnson’s letter came days after Committee Chairman Lamar Smith sent a letter to Pruitt asking him to “rescind” the agency’s 2014 preliminary decision to use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to restrict the development of the proposed Pebble Mine.

The letter touts Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery—and the estimated 14,000 workers it employs.

These are the American jobs the Trump administration must champion: “I hope that you believe putting America First also means protecting Americans first before the interests of foreign corporations.”

The letter also letter draws a “more complete picture” of EPA’s proposed determination to protect the “world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.” At the request of Native Alaskan tribes and others, EPA conducted a three year scientific study of the effects of large-scale mining like the Pebble Mine on Bristol Bay, which included conducting two rounds of peer review, engaging the local and broader public, and reviewing over 1.1 million public comments. EPA's rigorous, comprehensive study concluded that "mining of the scale contemplated at the Pebble deposit would result in significant and unacceptable adverse effects to important fishery areas in the [Bristol Bay] watershed." EPA found that the Pebble Mine would have "significant" and even "catastrophic" effects on the region, including the destruction of up to 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands and other waters. Based on the scientific study, EPA issued a preliminary decision to restrict the proposed Pebble Mine.

As the letter notes: “Those scientific reviews were sought by Alaska’s citizens. They were conducted with technical rigor by the EPA’s scientists. The in-depth scientific studies produced were transparent…To suggest that the EPA’s action regarding the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay was “unprecedented,” as the Chairman has repeatedly done is false.”

The letter beseeches Pruitt to “adhere to the mission of the Agency that was created to protect the environment and the public’s health, no the potential profits of foreign mining entities, such as Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals and its proposed Pebble Mine.”

America first.  Pebble never

About the Authors

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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