In August, 2010, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson stood in the same gym where we grew up, winning and losing basketball tournaments, celebrating graduations, and gathering to discuss important issues in our communities. Administrator Jackson heard a unanimous message from our region that day: "Use your power under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay, our fishery, our water, our people."
Six months later, Administrator Jackson and her agency proved that they've heard our message loud and clear. By announcing this week they will conduct a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed, the EPA has taken a first step in responding to the formal request made by Bristol Bay tribes, commercial fishermen, sportsmen, and residents, to initiate a 404c process to identify and deny, "...potential unacceptable adverse affects from large-scale development, on the Bristol Bay watershed."
As happy as we would have been with an immediate action by the EPA to stop Pebble Mine, we are very encouraged by the approach the agency has taken. The EPA views Bristol Bay as important enough to gather all the information necessary to make a smart, informed decision - a decision that will be fact based, and impossible to refute.