The EPA’s assessment of the watershed has created limits on the potential development of Northern Dynasty Mineral’s Pebble Mine. The company’s plans for the mine, detailed for investors and the Securities Exchange Commission, would create the largest open pit in North America, which the EPA determined would threaten the Bristol Bay Watershed. The bay is a large sockeye salmon fishery, creating a local industry that supports approximately 14,000 jobs.
“EPA is pleased that the Inspector General’s independent, in-depth review confirms that our rigorous scientific study of the Bristol Bay Watershed and our robust public process were entirely consistent with our laws, regulations, policies, and procedures and were based on sound scientific analysis,” McLerran said. “We stand behind our study and our public process, and we are confident in our work to protect Bristol Bay.”
Following criticisms from the Pebble Partnership, the Inspector General conducted a 17-month investigation to determining if the EPA’s assessment was biased, pre-determined or carried out in contradiction with the laws, regulations, guidelines and requirements governing ecological risk assessments. The Inspector General found no evidence on any of these counts.