On October 29, 2021, The U.S. District Court of Alaska ruled to reinstate the 404(c) Proposed Determination for Bristol Bay. These protections would limit the concentration of mine waste allowed in Bristol Bay’s delicate headwater streams, rivers, and wetlands.
The ruling wraps up a two-year-long lawsuit that was filed by Trout Unlimited (TU) and follows another recent ruling favoring TU from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The group challenged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when they removed protections that were granted to the region. Trout Unlimited stated that the withdrawal from the 404(c) Proposed Determination was “arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the Clean Water Act’s governing standard”.
“Today’s decision gets us back on track to finalizing protections for Bristol Bay’s headwaters and its world-class fisheries,” said Austin Williams, Alaska legal and policy director for Trout Unlimited. “As the science has shown time and time again, large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay headwaters would be catastrophic to the region’s fisheries, its economy, and its vibrant cultures. We look forward to working with the EPA to finalize these protections that are so critical to so many people.”
While this is still not the final nail in the coffin for Pebble Mine, we’re one step closer to permanently protecting one of the greatest fisheries and the last great Salmon runs in the entire world.