The EPA’s decision to continue with its 60-day comment period and not grant a 120-day extension was praised by numerous groups across the country, including Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Trout Unlimited and Wildlife Forever. The EPA said that its 60-day period adequate for public input is thorough and will allow its scheduled peer review panel to go forward with their expert opinions on the draft.
The Anchorage Daily News agreed in an editorial that 60 days is enough, adding that the agency has already received 875 letters and 14,000 form letters commenting on its watershed assessment. It also disagreed with criticism from Sen. Lisa Murkowski that the comment period was too short and rushed.
The paper’s opinion states: “Critics -- including Parnell and Attorney General Michael Geraghty -- have maintained that serious questions of state and federal law argue for more time. But as McLerran points out, the EPA draft is about the watershed, not disputes over jurisdiction… BOTTOM LINE: Alaskans have plenty of time to weigh in on EPA's Bristol Bay and Pebble report.”
Author Paul Greenberg posts another dispatch from his Bristol Bay adventures this summer in The New York Times. He writes about trout and the fully intact ecosystem of Bristol Bay and ponders why we would risk it for a copper and gold mine.
In an excerpt, Greenberg writes: “Alaska rivers at this high a latitude are remarkably poor in nutrients and they depend on salmon to ferry nutrients from the sea back to the land. Rainbow trout are equally dependent on the salmon. And so when salmon come into the river, spawn and start to literally fall apart as they die, they become prey to the rainbow trout.”
As the commercial sockeye runs are hopping in many districts around Bristol Bay, Dan Rather will conduct a live broadcast from Bristol Bay on Tuesday, July 10, called “Red Gold,” examining the threats to the fisheries and commercial fishing jobs from the proposed Pebble Mine.
Shoren Brown is the Save Bristol Bay campaign director for Trout Unlimited.