EPA Takes First Steps Towards Protecting Bristol Bay Salmon Fishery from Pebble Mine

Initiates Clean Water Act 404(c) process

In February 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is using its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to consider options for protecting the world’s largest wild salmon fishery in Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Section 404(c) authorizes the agency to restrict or prohibit mine waste disposal in the rivers, streams or wetlands that feed Bristol Bay to safeguard the salmon fishery. During the review, the EPA will rely heavily on its peer-reviewed scientific assessment of the impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed, released in January 2014.

What's next?

Today’s action is not a final decision to block the mine, but it does put on hold any attempts to build the mine until the process is complete. There are several steps in the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) review process, and public involvement opportunities are part of the process:

Step 1 – Consultation period with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and owners of the site (initiated on February 28, 2014).
Step 2 – Publication of Proposed Determination, including proposed prohibitions or restrictions on mining the Pebble deposit, in the Federal Register for public comment and one or more public hearings.
Step 3 – Review of public comments and development of Recommended Determination by EPA.
Step 4 – Second consultation period with the Army Corps and site owners and development of Final Determination.

Learn more about the 404c process.

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Anglo American withdraws from the Pebble Partnership
AngloAmerican logo
As Anglo leaves, eyes turn to EPA

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