SUN AND SNOW – Snow evaporates off the roof of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Thursday. More late season snow mixed with rain  is in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Sunny weather is in the forecast for the first part of next week. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Task Force Winds Up With Limits Unsolved
12 Apr 2024 15:31

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Sitka Tourism Task Force reviewed a number of recomme [ ... ]

World Flyers Made Sitka Stop 100 Years Ago
12 Apr 2024 15:29

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Almost exactly a century ago, the engines of four modi [ ... ]

California Salmon Fishing Canceled for Second Year
12 Apr 2024 15:24

By RACHEL BECKER
Alaska Beacon
    In a devastating blow to California’s fishing industry, federa [ ... ]

Gov Claims Poll Backs His Education Policies
12 Apr 2024 15:22

By CLAIRE STREMPLE
Alaska Beacon
    Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said a poll shows there is strong su [ ... ]

House Rejects Making State PFD Guaranteed
12 Apr 2024 15:20

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    The Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a long-a [ ... ]

Arctic Center at UAA Broadens Its Mission
12 Apr 2024 14:37

By YERETH ROSEN
Alaska Beacon
When the federal government established an Arctic Domain Awareness Cente [ ... ]

April 12, 2024, Police Blotter
12 Apr 2024 14:01

Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
April 11
At 2:14 a.m. a report was logged t [ ... ]

April 12, 2024, Community Happenings
12 Apr 2024 13:56

Card of Thanks
Dear Sitka, I would like to say thank you for the outpouring of love and support for t [ ... ]

Southeast Music Fest Opens with Festive Air
11 Apr 2024 15:49

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    High school musicians and directors from around South [ ... ]

Changes Made To Improve Recycling at Center
11 Apr 2024 14:11

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Recent changes in the collection of recyclable materia [ ... ]

Sitka Softballers Sweep All Rivals in Tourney
11 Apr 2024 14:10

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Opening the softball season strong at a tournament in  [ ... ]

House Adds, Subtracts In Amending Budget
11 Apr 2024 14:06

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    The Alaska House of Representatives has voted to provide state fu [ ... ]

SalmonState Criticizes AIDEA’s Loan Program
11 Apr 2024 14:05

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    An Alaska conservation group has released a new series of reports [ ... ]

Despite Quakes, Alaska Building Codes Shaky
11 Apr 2024 14:04

By YERETH ROSEN
Alaska Beacon
Sixty years after North America’s most powerful earthquake on record r [ ... ]

April 11, 2024, Police Blotter
11 Apr 2024 13:44

Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
April 10
A dog was reported running loose i [ ... ]

April 11, 2024, Community Happenings
11 Apr 2024 13:38

Big Rig Event
Set Saturday
For All Ages
All types of vehicles, food and activities are planned for the  [ ... ]

Home Health Receives Boost from Assembly
10 Apr 2024 15:08

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    After hearing testimony from a number of residents, t [ ... ]

Assembly to Question 2 Attorneys on Zoom
10 Apr 2024 14:23

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Two applicants for the Sitka city attorney position,  [ ... ]

Sitka Housing Summit Seeks Public Participation
10 Apr 2024 14:22

By Sentinel Staff
    Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Baranof Island Housing Authority and the city will be [ ... ]

Horan to Race Boston Marathon for Charity
10 Apr 2024 14:21

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Sports Editor
    Years after running cross country and track at Sitka  [ ... ]

High School Music Fest Starts Thursday in Sitka
10 Apr 2024 14:18

By Sentinel Staff
    The Southeast Music Fest kicks off early Thursday, with hundreds of high sch [ ... ]

Wolves Sweep Opening Series
10 Apr 2024 14:17

KODIAK OPENER - The five seniors of Sitka High’s softball team pose for a shot after playing in  [ ... ]

City League VB Tournament
10 Apr 2024 14:14

By Sentinel Staff
    Playing the recreational division City League volleyball tournament, the Pac [ ... ]

House Seeks to Narrow Gap in Funding Budget
10 Apr 2024 13:19

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    As the Alaska House of Representatives opened debate on the state [ ... ]

Other Articles

Daily Sitka Sentinel

EPA Blocks Plans for Pebble Mine

By BECKY BOHRER and PATRICK WHITTLE

The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took an unusually strong step Tuesday and blocked a proposed mine heralded by backers as the most significant undeveloped copper and gold resource in the world because of concerns about its environmental impact on a rich Alaska aquatic ecosystem that supports the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.

The move, cheered by Alaska Native tribes and environmentalists and condemned by some state officials and mining interests, deals a heavy blow to the proposed Pebble Mine. The intended site is in a remote area of southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay region, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage.

It's accessible only by helicopter and snowmobile in winter, developer Pebble Limited Partnership said in a permit application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As proposed, it called for a mining rate of up to 73 million tons a year.

An appeal by the Pebble partnership of a separate rejection of a key federal permit is unresolved.

In a statement, Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively called the EPA's action "unlawful" and political and said litigation was likely. Shively has cast the project as key to the Biden administration's push to reach green energy goals and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign nations for such minerals.

The Pebble Limited Partnership is owned Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

The Pebble deposit is near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports a bounty of salmon "unrivaled anywhere in North America," according to the EPA.

Tuesday's announcement marks only the 14th time in the roughly 50-year history of the federal Clean Water Act that the EPA has flexed its powers to bar or restrict activities over their potential impact on waters, including fisheries. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said his agency's use of its so-called veto authority in this case "underscores the true irreplaceable and invaluable natural wonder that is Bristol Bay."

The veto is a victory for the environment, economy and tribes of Alaska's Bristol Bay region, which have fought the proposal for more than a decade, said Joel Reynolds, western director and senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The mine would have jeopardized the region's salmon fishery, which brings 15,000 jobs to the area and supplies about half the world's sockeye salmon, Reynolds said. The 2022 harvest was more than 60 million fish, state officials reported last year.

"It's a victory for science over politics. For biodiversity over extinction. For democracy over corporate power," Reynolds said.

The EPA, citing an analysis by the Army Corps of Engineers, said discharges of dredged or fill material to build and operate the proposed mine site would result in a loss of about 100 miles (160 kilometers) of stream habitat, as well as wetlands.

The Pebble partnership has maintained the project can coexist with salmon. The partnership's website says the deposit is at the upper reaches of three "very small tributaries" and expresses confidence any impacts on the fishery "in the unlikely event of an incident" would be "minimal."

Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the EPA's veto was a dangerous precedent that could affect future development in the state, while state Attorney General Treg Taylor called the agency's action "legally indefensible."

"Alarmingly, it lays the foundation to stop any development project, mining or non-mining, in any area of Alaska with wetlands and fish-bearing streams," Dunleavy said.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she opposed the mine but that the EPA's veto shouldn't be allowed to jeopardize future mining operations in the state.

"This determination must not serve as precedent to target any other project in our state and must be the only time EPA ever uses its veto authority under the Clean Water Act in Alaska," Murkowski said in a statement.

Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell called the EPA's action "the final nail in the coffin for the Pebble Mine" and the culmination of a hard fought battle.

"Now, we will have a thriving Bristol Bay salmon run for generations to come," she said.

Tribes in the Bristol Bay region in 2010 petitioned the EPA to protect the area under the federal Clean Water Act. Alannah Hurley, executive director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said that to call the EPA announcement "welcome news is an understatement."

Tim Bristol, executive director with the group SalmonState, lauded the EPA's decision, saying it "may be the most popular thing the federal government has ever done for Alaska."

The EPA's decision is the latest in a yearslong back-and-forth over the project that has spanned administrations.

Leila Kimbrell, executive director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska Inc., called the decision "a dangerous abuse of power and federal overreach." The National Mining Association, citing high demand for minerals and fragile global supply chains, said domestic mining has "never been more important." It said EPA's decision is "in stark contrast to national and global realities."

You have no rights to post comments

Login Form

 

20 YEARS AGO

April 2004

Photo caption: Grace Larson holds one of the Easter breads she baked for sale at the annual Rainy Day Bazaar Saturday at Centennial Hall. Hundreds turned out for the event, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Spouses and Women’s Association.

50 YEARS AGO

April 1974

All youngsters from walking age on up to age 12 are invited to an Easter egg hunt Sunday. Ages 5 and under meet at the Centennial Building; ages 6-9 in front of the visitor center at Totem Park; and ages 10-12 at Totem Park. Some $150 in cash and merchandise prizes will be offered.

Calendar

Local Events

Instagram

Daily Sitka Sentinel on Instagram!

Facebook

Daily Sitka Sentinel on Facebook!