Fish Radio

January 23, 2014

Murkowski, Begich differ on EPA Pebble assessment

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska’s US Senators don’t see eye to eye on the EPA  at Bristol Bay. Their views after this –         

Mark Begich

Sen. Mark Begich
“Pebble is the wrong mine at the wrong place.”


 Federal grants are available to help “Made in America” companies compete with imports and save US jobs. Learn more at

 Enter your best fishing shots in ASMI’s photo contest!  Winners in seven categories get iPads. Learn more at and Vote on Facebook.



The Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a report last week that big mines like will devastate Bristol Bay’s salmon and culture. That sets the stage for the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to permanently ban mining in the region.   Senator Lisa Murkowski is critical of what she terms a ‘pre-emptive’ veto –

 I had expressed concern about an effort to prejudge where there has not been a plan that is clearly delineated, where there have not been permit applications made and the required analysis completed. So I continue to have concerns particularly when you’ve got a project that is not located on federal lands – it’s on state lands and you have a federal agency that is weighing in ahead of such time as there has been a clear project delineated. 3

 The EPA weighed in at the request of more than a dozen Alaska Native tribes in the Southwest region. Still, Murkowski has held fast to her belief that the process should be allowed to play out.

 It really is still about process. I have made it very clear that if Northern Dynasty were to submit their application, lay down exactly what this mine is going to look like and the extent of it, and it is not possible with what they have prevented to address the environmental concerns that are absolutely legitimate, if they cannot meet the requirements that we do not harm the salmon, then permits cannot and should not issue.  

 Senator Mark Begich has a different stance –  

 It became very clear in my mind that Pebble was the wrong mine in the wrong place.

 Begich says the ‘science’ drove his decision. And a visit to a mine he supports – Red Dog, an open put zinc mine near Kotzebue  – reinforced it.

 And in my view, that specific type of mine the impact I saw could devastate long term subsistence, commercial and recreational fisheries and I felt it was not worth trading off a nonrenewable resource for a renewable resource that provides thousands of jobs, great income for people in these communities as well as the subsistence part which is critical long term.  

 EPA Administrator Dennis McLerran said regulatory and policy decisions are next.

  A response to the tribes is what we are most concerned about developing next, and that process will begin immediately now that we do have   the scientific assessment in front of us.  


 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine