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News Release

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation Board

Bristol Bay Native Association

Bristol Bay Native Corporation

United Tribes of Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay tribes, fishermen, and communities are pleased to see yesterday’s announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding revised proposed protections for our lands and waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will publish its “revised proposed determination” on May 26, outlining potential Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay. This momentous announcement comes more than a decade after Bristol Bay Tribes, Alaska Native corporations, fishing and other stakeholders initially petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Water Act to protect the region from the threat of large-scale mines like Pebble. Yesterday’s announcement is an exciting and overdue step toward permanent protections.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the revised determination will prohibit and restrict discharges of dredged or fill material associated with mining at the Pebble deposit. Bristol Bay regional organizations look forward to reviewing the determination and providing further response in a June 1 press event (details below).

In its announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency detailed upcoming opportunities for the public to weigh in on these protections. Bristol Bay organizations are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to truly listen to Bristol Bay’s people and communities about the protections needed to ensure that this action truly safeguards the way of life that has sustained our region since time immemorial.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it will take written public comments on the revised proposed determination from May 26 through July 5, and will hold public hearings as follows:

- June 16, 9 a.m.-12 Noon: Dillingham, Alaska

- June 16, 5-8 p.m.: Virtual (Online Webinar)

- June 17, 12 Noon-2 p.m.: Newhalen, Alaska

Bristol Bay leaders responded to the news:

United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley: “As stewards of these lands and waters since time immemorial, our people welcome this step towards permanent protections for our waters and way of life. Yesterday’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency is a good start in this effort. It’s clear the science supports the need for our region’s headwaters to be protected from a mine like Pebble’s impacts, at the site and downstream. We appreciate Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to address the threat Pebble poses to our lands, waters and way of life in Bristol Bay, and hope to see the agency finalize strong protections this year.”

Bristol Bay Native Corporation President & CEO Jason Metrokin: “Bristol Bay Native Corporation welcomes Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement yesterday. This proposal is good news for Bristol Bay, and it could not come at a more opportune time, as millions of sockeye salmon return to their home waters and the people of the region ready their nets to once again engage in annual subsistence and commercial fishing activities. Nevertheless, no one in Bristol Bay will rest until this 404(c) action is finalized. We look forward to participating in the public processes that will lead to a final determination before the end of the calendar year.”

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation Board Chair Robin Samuelsen: “Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it is working on protections for our home is great news. There is no safe place to store mine waste at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, and Environmental Protection Agency’s action must prevent this in any of the critical subwatersheds that support the productivity of our wild salmon and all they sustain.”

Bristol Bay Native Association Acting President & CEO Bruce Baltar: “We are thankful Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposed determination, which is an important step towards protecting the Bristol Bay watershed from large scale mining. Bristol Bay people have sought such protections for more than two decades, and yesterday’s announcement brings us another step closer to that goal. We urge the Environmental Protection Agency to listen to the science and to the people of Bristol Bay to finalize strong comprehensive protections for our communities and way of life.”

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) represents 17 CDQ communities & exists to promote economic growth and opportunities for Bristol Bay residents through sustainable use of the Bering Sea fisheries.

Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA) represents 31 Bristol Bay Tribes & is the regional nonprofit tribal consortium providing social, economic, and educational opportunities to tribal members.

Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) is a diversified Alaska Native investment corporation dedicated to the mission of “Enriching Our Native Way of Life.” Established through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Bristol Bay Native Corporation works to protect the land in Bristol Bay, celebrate the legacy of its people, and enhance the lives of its shareholders.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) is a tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay Tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena'ina, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.

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