New Bristol Bay Legislation Introduced

May 6, 2024 By: Spencer Durrant

Photo: Alaska Region US Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr

The threat to Bristol Bay is, it seems, never completely dead. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively ruled against the Pebble Mine last year, both the Pebble Limited Partnership and the State of Alaska are suing to overturn the Clean Water Act regulations that the EPA cited in its denial of Pebble’s mining permit.

In an effort to combat those lawsuits, Alaskan Representative Mary Peltola, a Democrat, has introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would “Congressionally prohibit the discharge of mine waste into rivers, lakes and wetlands that surround the Pebble deposit.”

According to Trout Unlimited, writing on the Save Bristol Bay website, this legislation is significant “because of its potential to protect Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon runs more effectively than any previous measure.”

In theory, if this legislation passed, it would take an act of Congress to allow for mining in Bristol Bay, as Pebble’s plans for their mine specifically included discharging mining waste into the rivers in Bristol Bay.

It’s an ambitious piece of legislation that likely doesn’t have a high chance of passing, although stranger events have happened in Congress lately. If anything, it’s a sad commentary on our country that it takes an act of Congress to prohibit something as potentially damaging as the Pebble Mine.

I’ve written about mines before here at MidCurrent, specifically citing what I see as their biggest dangers. While it’s true we need the minerals and metals from these mines, it’s also certain that we don’t need mines in places of such ecological importance.

If you’d like to see Peltola’s legislation pass, Trout Unlimited has an easy setup to contact your representative, which you can find at this link.