Another big milestone happens Aug. 7 – 9 in the effort to protect Bristol Bay from inappropriate large-scale mining like the Pebble project. A panel of expert scientists will provide peer review of the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment at a three-day meeting in Anchorage.
The panel of 12 independent scientists have analyzed the 338-page report and will share their thoughts on what missing data, or key points that need to be emphasized more or additional information is relevant to understanding the watershed, the fisheries and the effects of mega mining there. Their input will shape the final document, completing the Watershed Assessment process so that EPA can move forward in deciding how to best protect Bristol Bay. They’ll also consider the public comments that more than 200,000 people submitted on the Assessment.
The panelists are: David Atkins, Watershed Environmental LLC, (mining and hydrology); Steve Buckley, WHPacific/NANA Alaska (mining and seismology); Courtney Carothers, indigenous Alaska cultures; Dennis Dauble, Washington State University (fisheries biology and wildlife ecology); Gordon Reeves, USDA Pacific Northwest, (fisheries and aquatic biology); Charles Slaughter, University of Idaho (hydrology); John Stednick, Colorado State University (hydrology and biogeochemistry); Roy Stein, Ohio State University (fisheries and aquatic biology); William Stubblefield, Oregon State University (aquatic biology and ecotoxicology); Dirk van Zyl, University of British Columbia (mining and biogeochemistry); Phyllis Weber Scannel (aquatic biology and ecotoxicology); Paul Whitney, (wildlife ecology and ecotoxicology).
If you’re into the science and technical elements, EPA will be hosting a live webcast of the two public meetings, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (Alaska time) including public testimony. Here’s the link for Tuesday: Peer Review Meeting Day 1 Webcast: Tuesday, August 7 and one for Wednesday: Peer Review Meeting Day 2 Webcast: Wednesday, August 8.
The peer review is an important step that ensures that the Assessment is scientifically rigorous. Then it will be up to the EPA and the Obama Administration to decide whether to move ahead with protecting Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act.