On Friday, the EPA released a draft of its long-awaited study of the potential effects of large-scale mining on Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed and its famed salmon run. I participated in a conference call Friday with the Administrator for the EPA's Region 10, Dennis McLerran, and wrote up a brief summary of it for Outside Online:
The report was initiated in February of 2011 as a response to requests from Bristol Bay residents and communities concerned about the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive copper, gold, and molybdenum deposit worth potentially hundreds of billions of dollars that happens to sit near the headwaters of two river systems—the Nushagak and the Kvichak—that together account for nearly half of Bristol Bay’s annual run of roughly 37 million salmon. And though the study’s target is pretty clear, the EPA was careful to paint the assessment in more general terms.
“This assessment is not about a single mine,” said Dennis McLerran, regional administrator for EPA Region 10, which encompasses the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, during a conference call with reporters. “Our primary intent is to understand the salmon and other ecological resources and how large-scale mining activity might impact them.”
Read the rest at Outside Online here, and expect more follow-ups this week as groups on both sides of the Pebble debate begin to digest and respond to the EPA report. (To read the report and learn more, head to the EPA's Bristol Bay page here.)