Protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining projects

The Honorable Michael S. Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Mr. Casey Sixkiller, Regional Administrator for Region 10

The Bristol Bay supports the largest wild salmon commercial fishery on earth, producing half of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon, sustaining 15,000 annual jobs and generating roughly $2.2 billion in annual economic activity. Bristol Bay’s wild salmon have been the foundation of Alaska Native culture in the region for millennia. But Bristol Bay is under threat by large-scale mining projects like Pebble Mine. We urge the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Bristol Bay by completing the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) process.


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To: The Honorable Michael S. Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Mr. Casey Sixkiller, Regional Administrator for Region 10
From: [Your Name]

The time has come for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finish the job of protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska from the proposed Pebble Mine and other large-scale mining projects. I urge the EPA to complete the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) process and reach a Final Determination for Bristol Bay this year. I support permanently protecting this priceless resource by preventing anyone from storing toxic mining waste at the headwaters of this fishery.

The Bristol Bay watershed is the lifeline for the people of Bristol Bay and all those who depend on it. This means commercial and subsistence fish harvesters, processors and recreational fishing businesses working in the bay, and all of their employees and clients from near and far. This also means seafood businesses, restaurants, and a multitude of seafood eaters from around the world.

Bristol Bay’s wild salmon have been the foundation of Alaska Native culture in the region for millennia. The watershed supports the largest wild salmon commercial fishery on earth, producing half of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon, sustaining 15,000 annual jobs and generating roughly $2.2 billion in annual economic activity.

This watershed is host to one of the best managed fisheries in the world, and the salmon harvested there reflect the Slow Food and Slow Fish values of food that is good, clean, and fair for all. This means the salmon is sustainably harvested from healthy populations, is processed to preserve its excellent taste and quality, and comes from a supply chain where fishermen and processors are paid a fair price. Bristol Bay salmon and other seafood are important protein sources for Slow Food communities across the country and beyond.

Therefore, EPA must expedite the 404(c) process and finalize protections this year. The 404(c) protections should prevent Pebble and other potential large mining operations like it from storing or disposing of mining waste at the headwaters of this fishery. The EPA’s action must protect several critical sub watersheds: the North Fork Koktuli, South Fork Koktuli and Upper Talarik Creek, all of which support the productivity of Bristol Bay's wild salmon and are under threat from Pebble and large-scale mines like it. The 404(c) must provide true protections to the headwaters, not just limitations based on past mine plans.

The threat of toxic large-scale hard rock mining, such as the proposed Pebble Mine, will continue to loom over Bristol Bay until real, permanent protections are secured for the region. Years of scientific study and review and a robust administrative record all support the EPA protecting this national treasure. Future generations should not have to live with the threat of the Pebble Mine overshadowing their livelihoods, food sources, culture, and well being. Until eliminated, that threat will cast a long shadow not just directly on Bristol Bay and Alaska communities, but across the rest of the country.

Please finish the job and ensure that Bristol Bay’s pristine lands and waters are protected in perpetuity.