In late January, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its final determination to put in place Clean Water Act protections to finally end the threat of the Pebble Mine and similar mining activities from 309 square miles of the Bristol Bay watershed. After a thorough review, the EPA determined that the discharge from mining operations would cause irreparable damage to the surrounding area’s economy and environment. As a result, the agency’s ruling prohibits future mining operations from dumping waste into the specified watersheds.
Bristol Bay, located in Southwestern Alaska, is home to one of the world’s last great wild salmon ecosystems. Salmon play a central role in the cultural and spiritual identity of the Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq peoples who have lived in the region for millennia, and are critical to their way of life. Home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run, Bristol Bay provides over 15,000 jobs and generates $2.2 billion annually from the commercial fishery that feeds Americans from coast to coast. For too long, this area has been under threat from the proposed Pebble Mine, which would have produced billions of tons of contaminated waste, destroying the region’s salmon habitat and permanently impacting the many communities and industries that depend on it. In 2020, the Army Corps’ rejected Pebble Mine’s permits, causing the company to enter years of appeals.
The Conservation Alliance has supported the Bristol Bay campaign since 2008, due to its irreplaceable resources that provide sanctuary to salmon, livelihoods for local businesses, and its offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions. This includes $375,000 in grants to support the efforts of United Tribes of Bristol Bay and Trout Unlimited-Alaska – organizations that have worked to stop the Pebble Mine.