ANITA DESIKAN, RESEARCH ANALYST | AUGUST 2, 2019, 10:31 AM EDT
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has gone to wash its hands of its responsibility for the unacceptable and substantial impact to our fisheries. Responsibility to protect the health and safety of our waterways. On Tuesday, the agency helped clear a path towards the development of Pebble Mine, a proposed mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. One that if built will become the largest open-pit copper and gold mine in the United States. The EPA has abdicated their authority to veto the project. So if the mine proves dangerous to the rivers, streams, and other water bodies in the region.
The EPA forfeited their veto power. All by refusing to send an official letter. A letter that contains the following language, as required under a 1992 agreement. That Pebble Mine “will have substantial and unacceptable impacts to an Aquatic Resource of National Importance.”
Substantial and unacceptable impact
Let’s review the evidence-based reasons showing that, without a doubt, Pebble Mine would have a substantial and unacceptable impacts on the aquatic systems of Bristol Bay.
Hardrock mining is like mining for copper and gold. It is an industry that is prone to polluting waterways with toxic substances. Substances such as arsenic and lead. It is estimated that 40 percent of the watersheds in the western United States are contaminated by pollution. All from hard rock mines which are at substantial and unacceptable levels of pollution. The proposed Pebble Mine is expected to process 180,000 tons of ore a day.
Most noteworthy, it can be operational for 20 years. The mine includes laying 187-mile-long natural pipeline. Thereby constructing an 84-mile-long private transportation route. In conclusion, a route that crosses over 200 streams (including Lake Iliamna, Alaska’s biggest lake). It will also encompass an unacceptable and substantial building of dams. Consequently that would most importantly block critical salmon habitat. The mine is located in a seismically active region at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. In conclusion, it would reach a depth of 0.77 mile (in comparison, the Grand Canyon’s maximum depth is 1 mile). More noteworthy, it is estimated generate up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste.