Cantwell Celebrates EPA Using Clean Water Act Authority to Protect Bristol Bay

WASHINGTON, DC  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would reinstate the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404(c) process to protect Bristol Bay, which had been terminated under the Trump administration. Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act authorizes the EPA to prohibit or restrict fill activities if it determines there would be an unacceptable adverse effect on certain resources.

“The science has been clear all along that the Pebble Mine would destroy Bristol Bay and the wild salmon that depend on it. Salmon depend on clean water and a healthy environment, and I applaud the Administration’s use of the Clean Water Act to prevent this colossal, toxic and historic threat to Bristol Bay salmon. I will continue to fight to finalize these proposed permanent protections to protect the future of Bristol Bay salmon and the future generations of fishermen who depend on it,” said Senator Cantwell.

Senator Cantwell has led the fight to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay—one of the largest salmon fisheries in the world—and the fishermen and industries that rely on these salmon. The seafood sector makes up 60 percent of the 30 billion dollar maritime economy in Washington state, which supports over 146,000 jobs.

For nearly a decade, Cantwell has repeatedly raised the alarm about the devastation that the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay could bring to the Pacific Northwest. In September 2020, Cantwell called for a Department of Justice investigation to examine discrepancies between what company executives promoting the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, said in leaked tapes and how they characterized the project’s scope and plans in legally-binding documents. In November 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers denied the proposed permit for Pebble Mine due to due to the substantial adverse environmental impacts it would have on the watershed.

In 2014, Cantwell called on the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to block the project after the EPA’s watershed assessment showed there would be severe impacts to salmon and water quality.