DILLINGHAM, AK – Bristol Bay’s communities submitted over 1,500 written comments supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed restrictions to protect the waters of Bristol Bay from mines like Pebble. During the public hearings, over 85% of in-region testimony supported Clean Water Act protections and passionately communicated to EPA that mines like Pebble would pose significant risk to Bristol Bay’s Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiq people and the sustainable fishery upon which they rely.
According to initial reports, at least 700,000 comments supporting Bristol Bay protections were submitted between July and September of this year—with nearly 20,000 of those from Alaskans. “We are so thankful that the EPA, thousands of Alaskans, and many, many others, have responded to our requests for help, when our own state government ignored us,” said Robert Heyano, President of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. “Bristol Bay residents overwhelmingly agree that no mine is worth risking our traditional way of life and world-class salmon fishery.”
“For generations, our culture and livelihood has depended on Bristol Bay’s salmon. When our concerns were ignored by the State of Alaska, we asked the EPA for help,” said Thomas Tilden, Executive Officer of UTBB. “The fact that this many Americans took the time to learn about our unique land, our subsistence way of life and then took action on our behalf of our cause is very much appreciated. On behalf of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, quyana, to everyone who weighed in to support the EPA’s Clean Water Act process to protect our home and our salmon.”
According to the EPA, the agency will begin reviewing all of the public comments submitted and release a final Recommended Determination no later than February 4, 2015.