On Thursday, Sept. 26, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski released a report calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take its time to address the concerns of key state and federal agencies, as well as the region's stakeholders, before submitting its decision on permitting for Pebble Mine near Alaska's Bristol Bay.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it would perform a "thorough and transparent review" before issuing its final decision.

The announcement came after Murkowski again raised questions about the EPA's criticism of the Army Corps' Draft Environmental Impact Statement, including data gaps and inaccurate statements.

"If the data, if the science out there that has been raised by these agencies can’t demonstrate that you can have a successful mining project in an area that is as sensitive as the Bristol Bay watershed, then a permit should not issue," Murkowski said.

“After a record-breaking salmon season in Bristol Bay, we’re glad to see elected leaders standing up for our fishery and all it sustains. Bristol Bay has said time and time again that we will not trade our world class fishery for a gold mine," said Norm Van Vactor, president and CEO of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.

"I have always said that we should not pit one resource against another," Murkowksi said in September at the Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Fisheries stakeholders in the bay have been urging the federal government for years not to sacrifice the fishery's sustainable potential for the short-term payoff of a mine that would leave behind toxic ponds in an earthquake zone.

“For nearly two years, the people of Bristol Bay have watched in horror as the Army Corps rushed through its review of Pebble," said Ralph Andersen, president and CEO of the Bristol Bay Native Association. "The language in the appropriations bill sends a clear message that this is not appropriate behavior from a federal agency. This is an important step in stopping the sham review process currently underway, and we look forward to seeing the senator continue to hold them accountable for the robust public process and scientific review that this region deserves."

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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