Well here’s good news. The EPA will announce plans today to examine whether they should use their authority outlined in the Clean Water Act to block the Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska. As we’ve talked about before, if this mining project were to proceed it would be the world’s largest open pit mine and would imperil vital natural resources, including salmon spawning grounds. While no decision has been made, it will at the very least delay the project several months since the US Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a federal discharge permit, which is something Northern Dynasty would need in order to dump waste into Bristol Bay as they plan.
Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act was created to allow the EPA Administrator to prohibit, withdraw, deny or restrict the discharge of dredged or fill materials into the waters of the United States if such discharge “will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.” Section 404(c) has been used 13 times; 11 of these have been by Republican administrations.
While environmentalists, local communities in Alaska, as well as both the fishing and tourism industries are working to block this mine (as are all of us at Leber Jeweler) the group behind this proposed mining project, Northern Dynasty Minerals, has partners like Resourceful Earth, a project of the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, who in July urged their supporters to send form letters against the EPA after this government organization released a study that declared Pebble mine to be be “potentially devastating.” The Koch brother’s lobbying group feels stopping this environmentally damaging mine “sets a dangerous precedent” since it would undermine big mining companies’ efforts to exploit our planet’s resources for their own personal profit.