Written by Jen Finn
As the elected Tribal leaders from the villages of Ekwok, Koliganek, Dillingham, New Stuyahok, and Levelock who petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to exercise their authority under the Clean Water Act, we are thankful that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took the time to listen to the people of Bristol Bay. We take exception to former Gov. Frank Murkowski's statement that EPA "self-initiated" the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. That is an insult to the hard work of the Tribes to research and understand the issues and submit our request to EPA.
We requested EPA take action under the Clean Water Act Section 404c, since we believe that Bristol Bay is a unique place with the largest wild Alaska salmon population in the world that deserves further protections that are offered under the Clean Water Act. The overwhelming numbers of people of Bristol Bay believe this with 99 percent of the comments on the recent Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment from within Bristol Bay was in support of EPA action. A vast majority of comments from Alaskans outside Bristol Bay also supported action (with over 80 percent support) and over 70 percent of Americans. Without any doubt, Alaskans stand strongly behind our Tribes and the EPA on this issue.
We have been involved in attending many meetings over the Pebble project. We've listened to Bruce Jenkins from Northern Dynasty (50-percent owner of Pebble prospect) tell Bristol Bay folks, if the fish populations are harmed, Pebble will replace them by capture and relocation. We've looked over Northern Dynasty's application to take 100 percent of the water from the South and North Fork of the Koktuli and Upper Talarik Rivers. We've looked over their Wardrop Report that depicts a mine plan that was given to their investors.
And we've watched the state of Alaska under Gov. Frank Murkowski's leadership take the Bristol Bay Area Plan go from one of salmon protection to one of paving the way for development. Our Tribes had to sue the state of Alaska over that plan.
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>
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