The U.S. Supreme Court rejected hearing a lawsuit filed by the State of Alaska against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) in an attempt to strike down Clean Water Act protections for the headwaters of Bristol Bay. This unprecedented lawsuit was a last-ditch effort to keep the dying Pebble Mine project alive.
Clean Water Act protections were finalized for the region in January 2023 after nearly 13 years of tribal consultation, unwavering public input and scientific review. These protections now safeguard the world’s greatest sockeye salmon fishery, and the robust commercial fishing, sport fishing and tourism industries that drive the region’s economy.
In July of 2023, Alaska filed a lawsuit directly to the Supreme Court that challenged the EPA’s authority to protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold mine proposed within the heart of some of the world’s last wild salmon country. Alaska argued that the EPA had overstepped its bounds and violated the state’s rights to manage its own natural resources.
On Monday, January 8, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it refused to hear the case, leaving the EPA’s Clean Water Act protections intact. This rejection came after the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Native Corporation and Trout Unlimited filed amicus briefs asking the court to reject the atypical lawsuit.
While the region is safe for now, Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy has already publicly committed to pursuing the case in a lower court. Even as Pebble and their allies’ tactics become increasingly desperate, continued momentum to safeguard Bristol Bay is as critical as ever.
As every fisherman knows, the fight isn’t over ‘til the fish is in the net… Today, we celebrate this win, while remaining vigilant against the continuous threats posed by Pebble. Their unyielding pursuit through every conceivable avenue only fuels our fight for permanent legislative protections for Bristol Bay. We thank you for your continued engagement for this ever-important cause.
As always, Bristol Bay forever, Pebble Mine never.