by Shoren Brown
The Anchorage Daily News responded to lower 48 House Republicans who are attacking the EPA over its Bristol Bay watershed assessment this week, saying that they are “skipping the real issue.” An editorial in the paper points out: “The EPA isn't the issue here. Whether a world-class gold and copper mine should be in the Bristol Bay watershed is the issue. The EPA -- at the request of many Alaskans -- is trying to answer that question.”
The paper was responding to a barrage against EPA by House Republicans Darrell Issa of California and Paul Broun of Georgia that was covered in the ADN and The Hill. Broun said the EPA should not use its report to block the development of Pebble Mine, while Issa questions the EPA’s authority to preemptively block required federal mine permits.
Commercial fishermen and many others vehemently refute those contentions. Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, responded to the criticism of EPA in the Congress blog of The Hill. Waldrop wrote in part: “Representatives Issa and Broun suggest that the EPA examination of our watershed is a case of federal overreach. In truth, EPA analyzed our watershed at the request of Alaska Native tribes, commercial fishermen and other Bristol Bay corporations. Even more to the point, most of Bristol Bay’s salmon bearing waters are navigable waters of the United States. Congress gave EPA authority over the quality of these waters in 1972. The fact is, EPA would be derelict in their duties if they did not engage in the matter.”
In the meantime, the Pebble Limited Partnership announced that it will likely submit a permit application within a few months. And, shareholders are pressuring Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Anglo American, the main backer of Pebble, to resign.
Shoren Brown is the Save Bristol Bay campaign director for Trout Unlimited.