Over the last several years, the parallel goals of sustainable fishing, indigenous rights and wilderness values created a broad coalition opposed to large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed, which sustains one of the world’s last and greatest strongholds of wild salmon.
The conservation community was a key part of this coalition until last summer, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to adopt restrictions that would effectively prohibit mining at the scale contemplated by Northern Dynasty, which owns the mineral rights to the Pebble deposit.
At that point, many conservationists, within Alaska and around the country, quietly declared victory and, in essence, moved on. This was premature.
The regulatory proceedings are currently in legal limbo due to litigation brought by Pebble. As a result, the EPA has not issued a final determination on the mining restrictions and, as of now, a federal court order bars the agency from taking any further action. Despite breathless rhetoric on both sides, the mining proposal is not dead and the threat to the headwaters that sustain the Bristol Bay salmon fishery has not been removed. Read More