Located in Southwestern Alaska, Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest and most productive wild salmon fishery. This unmatched resource supplies roughly 50% of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon, generating over $2.2 billion in economic value in 2019 and supporting 15,000 jobs.
For more than a decade, Earthworks has worked with partners in Alaska to fight the proposed Pebble Mine project, a massive copper and gold mine that would sit at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Pebble would cause irreparable harm to Bristol Bay, including the permanent destruction of over 100 miles of rivers and streams under just phase one of the mine. From major investors and jewelers to local fishermen and Alaska Native tribes, Pebble has received strong opposition from Bristol Bay communities and beyond.
Last November, the Army Corps of Engineers finally acknowledged that this mine project would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts” and denied the Pebble Mine permit. This was a crucial victory for the communities that rely on this fishery, but the fight isn’t over yet.
Northern Dynasty, the mining company behind Pebble, is already in the process of appealing the Army Corps’ decision, and we expect Northern Dynasty, or some other company, to continue to pursue mining near Bristol Bay until long-term protections are established.
Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use their authority under the Clean Water Act to stop large scale mining in this region. By placing strict limits against mine waste disposal within the Bristol Bay watershed, the EPA can protect this special place until Congress can establish permanent protections.