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EPA Moves to Reverse Bristol Bay Protections

Bristol Bay fishermen ©Michael Melford/     www.michaelmelford.com

Bristol Bay fishermen ©Michael Melford/www.michaelmelford.com

The Pebble Mine is back—and in the middle of what’s on track to be a record-breaking salmon season in Bristol Bay no less. Starting on July 11, 2017—and for the next 90 days—the EPA wants to know what you think about their plan to cancel the protections they proposed back in 2014 for the watershed. We hope you’ll take a moment to voice your concerns here. And check out the Alaska Dispatch article here.

Mining Giant Walks Away from Chuitna Coal Mine 

Chuitna River ©Damion Brook Kintz

Chuitna River ©Damion Brook Kintz

ACF is elated to share that on March 31, 2017, PacRim Coal, the company that planned to develop the Chuitna Mine across the Cook Inlet from Anchorage, has suspended seeking permits. Read more here. If developed, this would have been one of the largest strip mines in the country, the first to mine coal through an Alaska salmon stream and it would have threatened the ways of life of the residents of Tyonek and Beluga. Congratulations to our long-time grantees and partners Chuitna Citizens Coalition, Native Village of Tyonek, Cook Inletkeeper, Native American Rights Fund, The Alaska Center, Trustees for Alaska and many others who for close to a decade worked to raise awareness about and advocate against this destructive project. While efforts to stop PacRim in the near term were successful, work to protect the Chuitna watershed from future coal development will continue.

Arctic Ocean is Protected from Oil Drilling…for Now

Arctic Ocean ©Pat Farrell and Caroline Van Hemmert

Arctic Ocean ©Pat Farrell and Caroline Van Hemmert

On November 18, 2016, the Obama Administration cancelled Arctic offshore oil lease sales for the next five years. This decision follows a lengthy public comment process, and ACF and our partners are hopeful it will be difficult for the new administration to reverse. ACF has been supporting the efforts of long-time grantees Northern Alaska Environmental Center and Alaska Wilderness League, who were instrumental in advocating for this important result. Our congratulations go out to them, their members and allies, including Alaska Native communities from across the Arctic. This is a testament to what can be achieved when citizens speak up and science is heeded. Read the Alaska Dispatch News article here.

Coal Mining Permit Terminated 

Wishbone Hill mine site area ©Fredrik Norrsell/www.norrsell.com

Wishbone Hill mine site area ©Fredrik Norrsell/ www.norrsell.com

On July 7, 2016, in a victory for climate change and human and environmental health, the U.S. District Court ruled that a decades-old coal mining permit for the Wishbone Hill mine in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley is invalid. This means no more coal mining can take place until a new permit is issued, and a new public process occurs! Cheers to long-time grantees Trustees for Alaska, for successfully arguing this case, and to Castle Mountain Coalition, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, The Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Cook Inletkeeper, the Sierra Club and many others for your years of hard work and steadfast commitment to keeping Alaska’s coal in the ground! Read Trustees’ press release here.

No New Roads in the Tongass

Tongass ©Andrew Thoms

Tongass ©Andrew Thoms

On March 28, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by the State of Alaska, challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s “roadless rule” for the Tongass National Forest. The State has been trying to get an exemption to the 2001 rule, which barred building new roads— typically used for logging—in protected forest areas. This is a big win for Alaska’s wild lands and wildlife and for the cultures and livelihoods that rely on them remaining healthy. Read the Alaska Dispatch News article here.

Independent report concludes EPA unbiased in Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

EPA hearing in Anchorage ©Lucas Veldhuis

EPA hearing in Anchorage ©Lucas Veldhuis

Back in November 2014, a federal judge ruled to temporarily halt any U.S. EPA decisions regarding whether or not to protect Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine until a lawsuit brought against them by the Pebble Ltd. Partnership is resolved. The lawsuit alleged EPA’s watershed assessment process was biased towards mine opponents and that it predetermined the outcome. This has delayed the EPA’s final decision, which was originally expected by February 2015. A report released on January 13, 2016 by an independent Inspector General concluded the EPA conducted the assessment without bias. Read the Washington Post article here.

While a decision is still pending in the federal lawsuit, this announcement validates the EPA’s case. ACF and our partners see this as important progress and we will continue to keep you updated on any other major developments.

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