The Latest: EPA released a final assessment of Pebble Mine impacts
by Krista Langlois
The proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region could yield $300 billion in copper, gold and molybdenum, but also harm the world's largest sockeye salmon runs, a vibrant fishing industry and some of North America's last salmon-based cultures ("Worst place for a major mine?" HCN, 11/25/13). In 2010, nine Native tribes asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to invoke the Clean Water Act to block it, but the agency said it first needed to study the mine's potential impact on watershed health.
After more than a million public comments, the EPA issued its final assessment on Jan. 15. Environmental groups, commercial fishermen and tribal corporations praised its conclusion: that the mine "poses risks" to salmon because it would destroy up to 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands. Northern Dynasty, the sole mining company still involved, called the analysis "flawed." As to its potential power to halt the project, the EPA is staying mum.