National Geographic
Bristol Bay region of Alaska

360 Scientists Urge Environmental Protection Agency to Quash Bristol Bay Pebble Mine


A whopping 360 scientists from Canada, Poland, Australia, the contiguous United States and elsewhere in the world are pleading with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) en masse not to approve the Pebble Mine development in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

On February 3 they collectively signed a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy outlining the reasons they feel the plan for the massive gold and copper mine in the pristine region should not go forward.

The letter was sparked by the EPA’s final assessment of the project, which came out in mid-January and concluded that “large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures,” the EPA said in a January 15 statement.

"Over three years, EPA compiled the best, most current science on the Bristol Bay watershed to understand how large-scale mining could impact salmon and water in this unique area of unparalleled natural resources," said Dennis McLerran, regional administrator for EPA Region 10, in the statement. "Our report concludes that large-scale mining poses risks to salmon and the tribal communities that have depended on them for thousands of years. The assessment is a technical resource for governments, tribes and the public as we consider how to address the challenges of large-scale mining and ecological protection in the Bristol Bay watershed."

The signatories concurred with the EPA’s findings and entreated the agency not to greenlight the project.

“Based on the results of the assessment, we are very concerned about the prospect of large-scale mining in the unique and biologically rich watersheds of southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay,” the scientists wrote. “The preponderance of evidence presented in the Watershed Assessment indicates that large-scale hard rock mining in the Bristol Bay watershed threatens a world-class fishery and uniquely rich ecosystem, and we urge the Administration to act quickly to protect the area. Therefore, we urge EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to take the necessary next steps to protect Bristol Bay.”


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