The Biden administration proposed stringent clean water restrictions on a watershed in southwest Alaska Wednesday, a potential fatal blow to a planned critical mineral development project.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would review a proposal to prohibit the use of the Bristol Bay watershed as a discharge site for the Pebble Project, a mining project that would produce about 1.5 billion tons of critical minerals, including copper and molybdenum, over 20 years.
The rule, which the agency will publish Thursday, would protect Bristol Bay rivers, streams and wetlands that support the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, according to the announcement.
“Bristol Bay supports one of the world’s most important salmon fisheries,” EPA Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller said in a statement. “Two decades of scientific study show us that mining the Pebble Deposit would cause permanent damage to an ecosystem that supports a renewable economic powerhouse and has sustained fishing cultures since time immemorial.”