The nation’s top environmental official said he fully supports his organization’s decision to block a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay, even as the state of Alaska has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that action .
“Let me be clear: we are very proud of our decision to really evaluate the Pebble Mine project and do what is necessary to protect Bristol Bay,” Environmental Protection Agency manager Michael Regan said in a telephone call Tuesday. interview with The Associated Press. embarked on a four-day tour of Alaska starting in a village in Bristol Bay.
The EPA vetoed the proposed Pebble Mine in January, citing concerns about potential impacts on the aquatic ecosystem in southwest Alaska, which supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. The region also boasts significant mineral resources.
Last month, the state of Alaska asked the nation’s Supreme Court to intervene.
“The EPA’s order strikes at the heart of Alaska’s sovereignty and strips the state of its power to regulate its lands and waters,” the statement said.
The EPA and the Justice Department are reviewing the complaint and have until late next month to file an optional response, Regan said.
Regan’s first stop is in the Bristol Bay village of Igiugig, about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage, where Lake Iliamna feeds the Kvichak River. The village’s 68 residents, who are mostly indigenous peoples, lead a subsistence lifestyle and are largely dependent on salmon.
Regan planned to talk to tribal leaders about solid waste management and power generation issues, as well as “emphasizing the significance of our decision around Pebble Mine, to protect the bay from environmental, cultural, spiritual and livelihood reasons.”
When asked if there are other actions the EPA could or should take to block the mine if the state were to prevail, he said their process involves following the science and law from project to project, the way the agency evaluated the Pebble. My proposal.
“I have a very good feeling about the decision we made,” he said.
Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. owns the Pebble Limited Partnership, which has continued the mine. As proposed, the project required a mining rate of up to 73 million tons per year.
Regan planned to discuss issues of environmental justice, climate change, subsistence food safety, water infrastructure and pollution from contaminated lands transferred through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act during his first visit to the nation’s largest state.
There will also be discussions about how the EPA could help support community projects with money from the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, or from the climate and health care bill passed last year.
Other stops include Utqiagvik, the country’s northernmost community, formerly known as Barrow; Fairbanks; Anchorage and the native village of Eklutna, just north of the state’s largest city.
Alaska became the fourth stop on what is billed as Regan’s ‘Journey to Justice’ tour to learn how pollution has affected people. Earlier visits were made to Puerto Rico; McDowell County, West Virginia, and one with stops in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
Regan is not the only Biden administration official to visit. U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge will discuss housing needs in Alaska later this week.
Other government officials who visited this summer include US Attorney General Merrick Garland and US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.