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  • March 26, 2014 @ Press Releases

    Manchin/Vitter Clean Water Act Proposal Could Destroy Alaskan Jobs

    Yesterday, Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and David Vitter (LA) introduced legislation that would eliminate the EPA’s ability to protect areas like Bristol Bay, Alaska from harmful mining development. Titled the “Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014,” the legislation seeks to severely curtail the EPA’s clear authority to restrict development — like the proposed Pebble Mine — when it determines such development would have adverse impacts on fisheries and waterways. Senator Vitter renewed his attack on Bristol Bay’s jobs and the Clean Water Act today in his summary statement for a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing featuring EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

    Alaskans, who overwhelmingly oppose the Pebble Mine and support EPA action in Bristol Bay, responded quickly to this latest attempt to undermine the 10-year campaign to protect Bristol Bay and its 14,000 fishing-related jobs and $1.5 billion annual economy:

    • Tim Bristol, Alaska Program Director for Trout Unlimited: “It’s ironic that Senators Manchin and Vitter claim to be standing up for American jobs when their legislation would likely lead to the destruction of 14,000 American fishing jobs. These two senators seem much more focused on the needs of foreign mining companies than American sportsmen and hard working-commercial fishermen.”
    • Jason Metrokin, CEO of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation: “The legislation introduced by Senators Manchin and Vitter runs counter to the opinions of a majority of Alaskans who support what the EPA is doing. In fact, it was Alaskans who invited the agency into Bristol Bay to ensure this economic engine is properly protected. Bristol Bay Native Corporation believes in responsible resource development, but science has shown that the Pebble Mine cannot be developed in Bristol Bay without devastating its salmon, its people, its economy, and its culture. I hope these Senators will listen to the voices of businesses like ours.”
    • Katherine Carscallen, Sustainability Director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association:“When it comes to protecting American jobs, Senators Manchin and Vitter have it wrong with their attack on the Clean Water Act. For years, the thousands of men and women who depend on Bristol Bay’s commercial fishery have been seeking CWA protections for the Nation’s greatest sockeye salmon runs. EPA has finally answered our requests, starting a process that could protect this important resource from destructive mining development. This attempt to re-write the Clean Water Act would extend the uncertainty which has hung over our fishery since the proposed Pebble Mine came on the scene a decade ago. If the Senators truly care about American jobs, they should start by listening to Bristol Bay and standing up for the 14,000 sustainable jobs it provides.”

    Based on a three-year, comprehensive scientific assessment, The EPA recently began the process to restrict mining of the Pebble deposit under its clear authority in section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. Section 404(c) gives the agency authority to restrict permits at “any time,” and can do so if such development will have an “unacceptable adverse effect” on waterways or fisheries. In the case of the proposed Pebble Mine, the EPA found that even without accident it will destroy up to 94 miles of salmon spawning streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands, lakes, and streams in the Bristol Bay region.

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    CONTACT: Shoren Brown, 202-674-2380; shoren@bristolbayunited.com