U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says no to Pebble. Again.

The ionic sockeye salmon of Bristol Bay. Photo by Ben Knight

After years of review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would uphold its permit denial decision for the proposed Pebble Mine, continuing to block industrial mining from developing on top of the world’s most prolific wild salmon fishery.

History repeats itself

The Corps first denied the Clean Water Act 404 permit back in November 2020. Pebble Limited Partnership appealed that decision shortly thereafter. This week, the Corps said (again) that Pebble fails to meet Clean Water Act standards and is (still) “contrary to public interest.”

Photo by Ben Knight.

The original permit denial was made possible by outspoken advocates and broad bipartisan support. In Bristol Bay, commercial fishermen, sport fishermen and traditional Native fishermen put aside longstanding differences to help stop Pebble and safeguard the fishery they each value. Environmentalists and conservative sportsmen and women stood shoulder to shoulder. Republicans and Democrats alike knew that Pebble would be a bad return on investment while damaging a $2 billion industry. The project had overwhelming opposition from people across the political spectrum and from diverse backgrounds.

Read about the initial permit denial by the Army Corps of Engineers here.

“The Army Corp was absolutely spot on in their analysis that Pebble is “contrary to public interest,” said Nanci Morris-Lyon, longtime King Salmon, AK resident and owner of Bear Trail Lodge. “My lodge, along with numerous others throughout the region, stand as living proof of the sustainable balance we can achieve when we protect clean water and healthy habitat.”

The fight is not over

While this win is widely celebrated by the people of Bristol Bay and business owners in the region’s robust commercial, sportfish and tourism-based economy, we must still turn our attention towards advancing permanent safeguards for the people, fish and fish-based resources in Bristol Bay. We know that Pebble – or another mining company – could come back in the future and threaten the regions rich fish and wildlife resources

Bristol Bay. Photo by Ben Knight

The permit appeal was denied because the area around the Pebble Deposit is safeguarded by the Clean Water Act, but those protections are currently threatened. The State of Alaska and Pebble Limited Partnership are both seeking to overturn the Clean Water Act in separate court cases. If those safeguards are overturned, Bristol Bay would be extremely vulnerable to future mine development. To prevent this from happening, we need to ask our elected officials in Congress to pass legislation to permanently safeguard the entire Bristol Bay region.

When we said, “No Pebble mine,” we meant not here, not ever.

Local people along with a nationwide network of hunters and anglers don’t want to see the Pebble Mine resurrected in a few years; back to haunt the families and businesses that depend on clean water and healthy fish habitat.

Photo by Ben Knight.

Durable protective measures for Bristol Bay fish, wildlife and renewable resource-based jobs are needed today so that industrial mining in the headwaters of this priceless region is no longer a threat.

We cannot do this without you – our dedicated members and supporters. We are calling on you to stay engaged, share this information with your network and donate if you can, so we can be ready when legislation for permanent and watershed-wide protections for Bristol Bay becomes available.