Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) announcement that the agency will hold a public hearing in Seattle next week to discuss how large scale development in Bristol Bay, Alaska -- like the Pebble Mine proposal -- could hurt salmon and Washington state jobs. The hearing will be held on Thursday, May 31st, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time at the Federal Building in Seattle.
Earlier in May, Cantwell had asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to hold this Seattle hearing following the agency's release of its draft watershed assessment, which it made public last week. The EPA is also holding public hearings in Alaska June 4th-7th.
"I'm glad that Washington state voices will be heard as EPA works to finalize its scientific watershed assessment," Cantwell said. "This public hearing is a critical step in ensuring Washingtonians' livelihoods are protected.With thousands of Washington state jobs dependent on healthy, sustainable Bristol Bay salmon, I will continue fighting to ensure a final decision is based on sound science."
Thousands of Washington state jobs -- including commercial and recreational fishing, processing, shipbuilding and the restaurant industry -- depend on Bristol Bay's healthy, sustainable wild salmon populations. Nearly 1,000 Washingtonians hold commercial fishing permits in Bristol Bay. In 2008, Bristol Bay yielded over $113 million dollars in total value for Washington state commercial fishers. Recreational salmon fishers yielded an additional $75 million for Washington state businesses alone.
Bristol Bay is the most productive salmon run in the world, generating a total value of approximately $500 million dollars each year and supporting 14,000 full and part-time jobs.
In a September letter to Jackson, Cantwell became the first U.S. Senator to call on the EPA to use its Clean Water Act 404(c) authority to block any large development project in Bristol Bay if science determined that the project would "have unacceptable adverse impactson water quality and the fish stocks that depend on it."