EARTHblog » Bonnie Gestring
October 22, 2014
On the two month anniversary of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine tailings dam failure, I travelled with colleagues from Bristol Bay, Alaska to see the area first-hand. At the hospitality of the Northern Shuswap Fisheries Department, we travelled by boat across Quesnel Lake to see the mouth of Hazeltine Creek where the tailings spill emptied into the lake. Despite two months of cleanup, the mouth is still choked with massive trees that were carried downstream by the powerful force of the tailings breach, which transformed a small salmon stream into a broad corridor piled with mine waste.
September 26, 2014
Today, Judge Holland of the U.S. District Court tossed out the Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the EPA. Pebble sought to stop the EPA from using its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to restrict mine waste dumping from the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. Read the court decision here.
The judge ruled that the lawsuit was premature because the EPA hasn’t issued a final decision yet. The EPA initiated the 404(c) process after Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the agency in 2010 to step in to protect the Bristol Bay fishery, which is central to the culture and regional economy. The EPA has announced that it will make a final decision by February 2015. Earthworks submitted an amicus brief in support of the EPA, urging the Judge to dismiss the case. Read the press release here.
In the meantime, there is enormous local, state and national support for the EPA to issue a final decision and protect the Bristol Bay watershed from the Pebble Mine. The public comment period on the EPA’s plans for limiting mine waste disposal into the Bristol Bay watershed closed last week (Sept. 19th), with a flood of public comments supporting the EPA’s proposal.
Altogether, the EPA has received roughly 1.5 million comments on behalf of protecting the Bristol Bay fishery – demonstrating the overwhelming public support for protecting the largest wild salmon fishery on Earth.