Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill that would shift regulatory powers over water and wetlands from U.S. EPA to the states. Among the legislation’s provisions is a clause to limit EPA’s ability to veto Clean Water Act permits for mining proposals that would have unacceptable adverse effect on water. States would have to approve the move before any such veto could take effect.
HR 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, could have a serious impact on water quality throughout this country. Nowhere would that impact be felt more than in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where the proposed Pebble Mine threatens to destroy the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. And with it, the livelihoods of the commercial fisherman, sport fisherman and native communities who rely on area waters to live.
Last year, eleven federally-recognized tribes requested that EPA deny the 404c Clean Water Act permit for the proposed Pebble Mine. If the EPA is unable to use its authority to deny the Pebble Mine, the complex system of rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands in Bristol Bay could be at risk. The proposed Pebble Mine would generate up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste in a seismically active area that would have to be treated for hundreds of years.
The legislation now heads to the floor of the House of Representatives. Please call your member of Congress and tell them the integrity of the Clean Water Act needs to be preserved to protect our health, communities and economy — vote no on HR 2018.