EPA Protects Bristol Bay, Alaska with Pebble Mine Veto

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden Administration today dealt a blow to the massive and controversial gold and copper mining project in Bristol Bay, Alaska called the Pebble Mine. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Final Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act that not only prohibits the Pebble Mine but also restricts future mining of the Pebble deposit in certain headwaters of Bristol Bay.  

Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior Attorney at NRDC, made the following statement: 

“This is an existential win for Bristol Bay, for the region’s tribes and communities, for science, and for nature at its very best.  The wild salmon fishery of Bristol Bay is a national treasure, protected at last from a relentless assault by an underfunded foreign corporation hoping to enrich itself at the expense of the people of Alaska.”   

“EPA’s decision is a victory for science over politics, people over profits, and biodiversity over extinction.  The battle against the Pebble Mine has pitted an essentially eternal supply of food against an essentially eternal threat of irreparable harm—and today the planet won.” 

Taryn Kiekow Heimer, Senior Advocate and Deputy Director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, made the following statement: 

“This victory has been decades in the making and is the fruit of relentless advocacy by Bristol Bay Tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups to protect the greatest wild salmon fishery in the world.”  

“EPA saved Bristol Bay from an ecological, economic, and environmental justice tragedy. By rejecting the behemoth proposed by a greedy foreign mining company, EPA protected the needs of the Tribes, communities, and commercial fishermen that rely on Bristol Bay’s extraordinary salmon runs. It’s a bipartisan win with a global impact.” 


Bristol Bay provides half the world’s wild sockeye salmon, supports 15,000 jobs, and generates $2.2 billion in economic activity every year. If fully developed, the Pebble Mine would produce more than 10 billion tons of mining waste requiring storage, forever, in a wet and seismically active region.  

Over the past two decades, Bristol Bay residents, Tribal members, commercial fishermen, sportsmen, conservation groups, chefs, investors, businesses, faith-based groups, and more have repeatedly urged EPA to use its 404(c) authority to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of the Pebble Mine. 

Joel has written a blog on what comes next now that the EPA has vetoed the Pebble Mine available here and Taryn celebrates the win and explains what it means in further depth here

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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