Reps. Suzan DelBene, WA-01, and Rick Larsen, WA-02, praised the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) announcement today that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect one of the world's largest salmon fisheries in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the proposed Pebble Mine. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery supports thousands of jobs for Washington state fishers and processors.
After three years of scientific study, the EPA announced in February that it would start a process to protect the bay because of the many risks it poses to salmon and their habitat. EPA now seeks public comment on its decision.
In January, Larsen and DelBene, along with eight other Northwest lawmakers sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for the agency to take these steps to protect Bristol Bay.
Earlier this week, Larsen urged his colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to vote down a bill that would restrict the EPA's ability to use the Clean Water Act to prevent environmentally harmful projects like the Pebble Mine from going forward. Larsen also urged the President last year to prevent mining development in Bristol Bay.
"EPA's careful look at the potential effects of the Pebble Mine concluded the risks to the world's largest salmon fishery are far too great. Today's decision is a major victory for the small business owners in Washington state who rely on the Bristol Bay fishery for their livelihoods and for a vibrant natural resource that can and should remain healthy for generations to come," Larsen said.
"The EPA's announcement today is a critical step in protecting Bristol Bay from what would be an incredibly destructive mine. As I have said before, the fishery in Bristol Bay is too important to the economy of Washington state, to countless hardworking fishermen, and to thousands of jobs in the commercial fishing industry to be put at risk. Bristol Bay is unrivaled in its cultural, environmental, and economic significance and I'm pleased that the protection of this invaluable area continues to move forward," DelBene said.