By Giovanna Marcantonio, Executive Producer | March 3, 2014
On February 28, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated the 404(c) process preventing the proposed Pebble Mine from getting federal permits for at least the next year while the agency reaches a final regulatory determination. This process is a part of the Clean Water Act, which enables the EPA to “prohibit, restrict, deny or withdraw” permits for the discharge of waste materials in any area that would be at risk of an “unacceptable adverse impact on one or more of various resources, including fisheries, wildlife, municipal water supplies, or recreational areas.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday the EPA's action has the "strong support" of President Obama.
Since Alaska Native Elders, including several characters in We Can't Eat Gold, first called on the EPA to protect Bristol Bay in 2010, there has been growing national concern surrounding the social and environmental impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine. Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest remaining wild salmon runs, providing much needed food and job opportunities for Alaska Natives and commercial fishermen from around the world. After a three year scientific assessment conducted by the EPA, the potential effects the mine could have on the natural resources and people of Bristol Bay was enough for the Agency to initiate the 404(c) process.
The EPA's decision is big news for Bristol Bay, marking the first step taken by the federal regulatory organization in protecting Alaskan wild salmon and the subsistence communities that rely on this sustainable resource from the threats posed by the proposed Pebble Mine..
Thank you to everyone who has supported our documentary, We Can't Eat Gold, and helped to spread Alaska Native voices. You helped make the difference. The EPA's action shows that Alaska Native elders and youth were heard loud and clear in Washington D.C.