The bay, home to a major sockeye fishery, sits atop a massive gold and copper deposit, opposing environmentalists at mining companies.
WASHINGTON - The Biden administration took the first steps on Thursday that allow himwere to begin the process of protecting pristine Alaska Bristol Bay, one of the most valuable sockeye fisheries in the world which also sits on top of huge deposits of copper and gold long coveted by mining com companies.
The administration has filed a petition with the United States District Court. United for Alaska to overturn a Trump-era ruling that removed environmental protections from Bristol Bay, some 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. If the court agrees, the administration could start developing permanent protections for the area.
In a statement, the environmental protection argued that President Donald J. Trump's administration actedillegally in 2019 when he dismissed fears that a proposed gold and copper mine could threaten fisheries, removing federal protections from Bristol Bay.
This decision will have little immediate effect as the Trump administration ultimately denied an essential permit for the project, known as Pebble Mine , in 2020. This came after President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, who both enjoyed hunting and fishing in the area, joined environmental activists and indigenous tribes to oppose the mine in an unlikely coalition.
But environmental activists noted that the decision to reject the permit by the US Army Corps of Engineers is called by PebbleLimited Partnership, the company seeking to build the mine. The company wants to dig a pit more than a square mile and a third of a mile deep, to get the ls, estimated to be at least $ 300 billion. The project would include the construction of a 270-megawatt power station and a 165-mile gas pipeline, as well as an 82-mile road and large tailings ponds, some of which are toxic. A port in Iliamna Bay should also be dredged.
At the moment, nothing is in place to stop a new attempt at a mining project in the region, although the Biden administration's request to court is seen as a first step in changing that.
"I am pleased that the Biden administration has taken this important step to ensure the continued protection of this unprecedented watershed, salmon and people.he supports, "said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, a Democrat, said in a statement to The Times." Mining in the Bristol Bay watershed would have caused irreparable damage to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. 'water, 2,800 acres of wetlands and 130 acres of open water.
On the campaign trail, President Biden made the pledge "d 'listen to scientists and protect Bristol Bay ”. Image Hundreds of thousands of sockeye salmon heading upstream to spawn in the K of Alaska Parknational and atmai reserve, part of Bristol Bay. Credit ... Acacia Johnson for Hfrance.fr
Praising the region as the foundation of fashion Native life in Alaska, a popular destination for anglers and the source of half the world's sockeye salmon, Mr Biden said, "This is no place for a mine." "
President Barack Obama 's administration ended in 2014 after a three-year scientific review that the Pebble Mine project could have effects "catastrophic ", including "complete loss of fish habitat due to the removal, drying up and fragmentation of streams, wetlands and 'other aquatic resources ' in parts of Bristol Bay. Mr. The E.P.A. Obama's iss filed a proposed ruling under a provision of the Clean Water Act that would have acted as a veto and effectively banned mining in the region. But the agency faced several lawsuits from the Pebble Limited Partnership, and when Mr. Trump took office the decision was still not finalized.
In 2019, the Trump administration, which by that time had overturned nearly 100 environmental regulations, completely removed the Obama-era designation and denounced it as " obsolete "- citing the lawsuits filed by the Pebble Mine company as one of the important new developments.
Representatives of Pebble Mine Partnership and its parent company , Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.
In a statement, the EP administrator of A., Michael Regan, said that if the court rules in favor of the administration Biden, the agency would announce a timeline for resuming a process to protect Bristol Bay from development under the Clean Water Act.
"What is at stake is to prevent pollution that would disproportionately impact the natives of Alaska ", said Mr. Regan, "and to protect a sustainable future for the fishery most productive salmon in North America. "