Larsen, DelBene back EPA decision on Bristol Bay, Pebble Mine

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Bellingham.  - Contributed photo
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Bellingham.
— image credit: Contributed photo

U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene last week praised the Environmental Protection Agency's announcement that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries in Bristol Bay, Alaska, from the proposed Pebble Mine.

The Bristol Bay and its salmon fishery support thousands of jobs in the Washington state fishing industry.

After three years of scientific study, the EPA in February announced that it would start a process to protect the bay because of the many risks it poses to salmon and their habitat. EPA seeks public comment on its decision.

“EPA’s careful look at the potential effects of the Pebble Mine concluded the risks to the world’s largest salmon fishery are far too great," Larsen said in a press release. "Today’s decision is a major victory for the small business owners in Washington state who rely on the Bristol Bay fishery for their livelihoods and for a vibrant natural resource that can and should remain healthy for generations to come."

In January, Larsen, WA-2nd District, and DelBene, 1st District, along with eight other Northwest lawmakers sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for the agency to take steps to protect Bristol Bay.

Larsen last week urged his colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to vote down a bill that would restrict the EPA’s ability to use the Clean Water Act to prevent environmentally harmful projects like the Pebble Mine from going forward.

The bill, H.R.4854, the Regulatory Certainty Act, introduced in June by Congressman Bob Gibbs, an Ohio Republican, was approved by the committee, in a 33-22 vote, despite Larsen's opposition, and is expected to be voted on by the full House sometime in the near future.

Larsen also urged the President last year to prevent mining development in Bristol Bay.

“The EPA’s announcement today is a critical step in protecting Bristol Bay from what would be an incredibly destructive mine," DelBene said. "As I have said before, the fishery in Bristol Bay is too important to the economy of Washington state, to countless hardworking fishermen, and to thousands of jobs in the commercial fishing industry to be put at risk."




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