Monday, March 03, 2014

EPA moves to block proposed Alaskan metal mine

The Environmental Protection Agency "announced Friday it was moving to protect the Bristol Bay watershed, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon runs, under an obscure element of the Clean Water Act," Lisa Demer reports for the Anchorage Daily News. "Its actions could lead to a virtually unprecedented administrative veto of the proposed Pebble Mine even before developers formally submit plans." The proposed mine has been a subject of controversy since it was introduced, with the EPA last month saying the mine would destroy between 24 to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams and 1,300 to 5,350 acres of wetlands. (Pebble Science map)

EPA said a number of steps must happen before it decides whether to block the mine, but officials also stressed that the fishery is an 'extraordinary resource' that needs special protection," Demer writes.  "Half of the world's sockeye salmon are produced in the Bristol Bay watershed in runs that average 37.5 million fish a year."

Alaska Republicans, led by Gov. Sean Parnell, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, said they plan to fight the decision. Young said, "This expansive, jurisdictional power grab proposed by the EPA severely jeopardizes not only Alaska's sovereignty but the rights of states and all private property owners nationwide." (Read more)

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