On the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s promise to protect Bristol Bay, dozens of groups urge EPA to fulfill that promise by taking immediate action under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act
Forty-six local, state, national and international organizations—representing tens of millions of members and supporters—sent EPA a letter today urging the agency to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect the indigenous communities and world-class fishery of Bristol Bay, Alaska from the ongoing threat of large-scale mining like the Pebble Mine.
The Bristol Bay Defense Fund—a coalition of Bristol Bay tribes, businesses, nonprofit, and community organizations dedicated to protecting Bristol Bay from the ongoing threat of the Pebble Mine – also ran this ad in the DC edition of the New York Times:
Both the letter and the ad come on the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s promise to protect Bristol Bay. Both urge EPA to fulfill President Biden’s promise by taking immediate action under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay and stop the Pebble Mine.
The letter also supports and amplifies the recent requests made by United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Native Association, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation following the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Trout Unlimited et al. v. Pirzadeh et al., No. 20-35504 (9th. Cir. June 17, 2021)—which revived litigation filed in Fall 2019 against EPA challenging the Trump administration’s illegal withdrawal of EPA’s Obama-era Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. (NRDC also sent a separate letter urging EPA to expeditiously reinstate its 404(c) determination following the Ninth Circuit’s decision.)
The group letter notes that the time to act is now:
It has been more than a decade since the tribes who have called this land home for millennia first petitioned the EPA for permanent protection under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. President Obama visited Bristol Bay in 2015 and promised protection. In 2020, President Biden echoed that promise. Yet today, the region remains at risk.
The importance of protecting Bristol Bay couldn’t be clearer. This year more than 65 million sockeye returned to Bristol Bay—shattering the previous record. These fish drive the most robust and sustainable commercial fishery on the planet, generating $2.2 billion annually, supporting 15,000 jobs, providing 57 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon, and sustaining indigenous communities.
The letter urges EPA to act immediately to protect Bristol Bay’s wild salmon:
As we watch rivers across the west coast suffer from drought and extreme temperatures that are decimating salmon and other species, the salmon harvest in Bristol Bay is simply irreplaceable. Yet, the CEO of the foreign company proposing to mine the Pebble deposit continues to double down on his commitment to build. Even if he isn’t successful, another mining company can simply pick up where Pebble left off. Until Bristol Bay is permanently protected, this watershed and the salmon it supports remain at risk.
Both the letter and the ad urge EPA to fulfill President Biden’s promise to protect Bristol Bay by taking immediate action under 404(c).
Stand in support of Bristol Bay and make your voice heard, too.