EPA officials issued a proposal Friday to restrict plans to develop a mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which the agency describes as “one of the world’s most valuable salmon fisheries.”
The Bristol Bay region doesn’t only feature salmon. The Pebble deposit also holds copper, gold and molybdenum ore, making the deposit worth an estimated $300 billion.
However, the EPA warned that mining the Pebble deposit could cause the loss of streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds or alter the flow of streams where salmon have been documented.
“The science is clear that mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems,” explained Dennis McLerran, regional administrator for the EPA who oversees Alaska, in a written statement Friday.
“Simply put, this will be a uniquely large mine in a uniquely important place,” McLerran said about the planned mine, which would be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon.
The EPA’s statement didn’t sit well with the Pebble Partnership. The company’s CEO Tom Collier questioned the science cited by the EPA and gave a response statement in which he vowed to continue to fight the EPA’s action.
“We have not yet seen EPA’s proposal, so we will reserve further comments until we have had a chance to read and analyze it,” Collie said. “We are outraged, however, that the Agency decided to take this action when litigation on their underlying authority to do so is pending in Federal court in Alaska, and when their own Inspector General is currently in the process of reviewing the propriety of EPA’s actions.” (RELATED: EPA’s Veto Threat Imperils Alaska’s Pebble Mine Project)