Cantwell Slams Trump Administration’s Decision to Withdraw Protections for Bristol Bay

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) slammed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw protections from Bristol Bay, Alaska, and allow the proposed Pebble Mine to move forward:

“The Bristol Bay watershed supports fishermen, shipbuilders, suppliers, sportsmen, restaurants, and over fifty million salmon that make up a 1.5 billion dollar economy,” Senator Cantwell said. “The Trump administration’s reckless action today threatens our salmon, our maritime economy, and the livelihoods of thousands of Washington fishermen. This is another example of this administration making a foolish and short-sighted mistake by choosing special interests over working-class jobs.”

The Pebble Mine threatens to irreparably harm the Bristol Bay watershed, the 40-60 million salmon that return to it every year, and the fishermen and industries that rely on these salmon. A three-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency released in 2014 found that the mine as proposed would, even in the course of normal, safe mine operations, destroy 24 to 94 miles of pristine waterways and salmon habitat and contaminate an additional 48-62 miles of streams with toxic mine waste.

Last month, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official in Alaska criticized the draft environmental review for the mine as lacking critical information and likely underestimating the mine’s impact on Bristol Bay fisheries.

Senator Cantwell has long fought to protect the Bristol Bay watershed and its important environmental and economic place in the Pacific Northwest. In January of 2014, she called on the Obama administration to protect Bristol Bay from mining after a report showed the proposed mine would threaten salmon runs and damage the commercial fishing industry. In July of 2014, Cantwell praised proposed science-based protections for the Bristol Bay watershed. In October of 2017, Cantwell and other members of the Washington state congressional delegation urged President Trump to listen to Washington fishermen and businesses before removing protections from Bristol Bay. And in May 2018, Cantwell called on the Trump administration to hold public meetings in Washington state on the proposal and increase transparency for the permitting process.