ANCHORAGE — Two minutes at a time, the Environmental Protection Agency heard directly from Alaskans how they feel about the agency’s proposal to block Pebble mine development.
At an Aug. 12 public hearing in Anchorage, 133 attendees testified before EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran and Bristol Bay Management Lead Richard Parkin about the unprecedented use of the agency’s Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authority to ban a project before permit applications are filed if it determines there would be an adverse affect on fish and wildlife habitat.
Meeting attendees were greeted by opponents of the proposed Southwest Alaska copper and gold mine at the Egan Center doorways who offered them cutouts of sockeye salmon in spawning colors and anti-Pebble stickers. The stickers far outnumbered the smattering of “Pro Process” buttons and “Hands off Alaska” labels.
Inside, state officials, Bristol Bay residents and Pebble executives mingled while they waited for the meeting to begin.
McLerran began the five-hour hearing with a prepared statement that outlined EPA’s 404(c) goal.
“The information our scientists gathered and analyzed in the watershed assessment made clear that the extraction, storage and treatment activities necessary to profitably mine the Pebble deposit pose significant risks to the fragile, unparalleled ecosystem that produces the greatest salmon fishery in the world,” he said.
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