Biden Administration Acted to Protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay

WASHINGTON — The on Thursday took the first steps to allow Alaska to begin the process of preserving its pristine land Bristol Bay, he is also one of the world’s most prized sockeye salmon fishermen, perched atop huge deposits of copper and gold that mining companies have long coveted.

The administration has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska to overturn the Trump-era ruling that abolished environmental protection for , about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. If the court agrees, the administration can begin to create permanent guards for the district.

In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency argued that President Donald J. Trump’s administration unlawfully in 2019 when it dismissed concerns that a proposed massive gold and copper mine would threaten fisheries and withdraw federal protections in Bristol Bay.

This move will have little immediate effect, as the Trump administration ultimately denied a necessary permit for the project. gravel mineThis is President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who both love to hunt and fish in the area. and that happened after Fox News personality Tucker Carlson joined environmental activists and Native tribes to oppose the mine in a possible coalition.

However, environmental activists noted that the decision to deny permission to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was appealed by Pebble Limited Partnership, the company that wanted to build the mine. The company wants to dig a pit more than a square mile and a third of a mile deep to extract the metals, which are estimated to be worth at least $300 billion. The project will include the construction of a 270-megawatt power plant and 165 miles of natural gas pipelines, as well as an 82-mile road and large reservoirs for waste, some of which are toxic. It will also require dredging of a harbor in Iliamna Bay.

Currently, there is nothing to stop a new mining project attempt in the region, although the Biden administration’s request to the court is seen as the first step to change that.

“I am pleased that the Biden administration has taken this important step to provide lasting protection for this unique watershed and the salmon and people it supports,” Jay Inslee, Democratic Governor of Washington State, told The Times. “Mining in the Bristol Bay basin would have done irreparable damage to the world’s largest sockeye fishery.”

Both federal and state agencies have found that the proposed Gravel Mine, which will be located in two watersheds feeding fish spawning rivers, will cause permanent damage. Scientists say it will destroy more than 130 miles of streams, 2,800 acres of wetland and 130 acres of open water.

On the campaign trail, President Biden pledged to “listen to scientists and Bristol Bay.”

“This is not the place to mine,” he said, praising the area as a sought-after destination for anglers and the basis of the Alaska Native lifestyle, the source of half the world’s sockeye salmon.

President Barack Obama’s administration concluded in 2014, after a three-year scientific review, that the Gravel Mine project could have “catastrophic” effects, including “complete loss of fish habitat due to the removal, dewatering and fragmentation of streams, wetlands.” , and other water sources” in parts of Bristol Bay.

Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has issued a resolution proposal that will act as a veto under a provision of the Clean Water Act and effectively ban mining in the area. However, the agency has faced several lawsuits from Pebble Limited Partnership, and the verdict is still not finalized when Mr Trump took office.

In 2019, the Trump administration, which had by then rolled back nearly 100 landscaping projects, completely retracted the Obama-era appointment and denounced it as “outdated”, citing the Pebble Mine company’s lawsuits as one of the key new developments.

Pebble Mine Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole said in a statement that the company plans to monitor EPA actions to determine its impact on the project and the permitting process.

“While the Biden Administration seeks lower carbon emissions for power generation, it must recognize that this change will require significantly more mineral production, particularly copper,” he wrote. “Project Pebble remains an important domestic resource for minerals needed to meet management’s green energy goals.”

EPA administrator Michael Regan said in a statement that if the court rules in favor of the Biden administration, the agency will announce a program to pursue a process to protect Bristol Bay from development under the Clean Water Act.

“What is at stake is preventing pollution that will disproportionately affect Alaska Natives and safeguarding a sustainable future for the most productive salmon fisheries in North America,” said Mr. Regan.

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