Dozens of people attended a public hearing in Dillingham Thursday night to weigh in on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restrict development of the Pebble Mine.
The EPA claims it has authority, under Section 404C of the Clean Water Act, to prohibit the dumping of waste material into certain waters and wetlands in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. According to the federal agency, the proposed disposal area could jeopardize the ecosystem’s long-term health and sustainability.
Local fishermen, like Katherine Carscallen, share those fears. Carscallen said many in the community were pleased with the EPA’s action.
“It took the entire region coming together and asking them to do this over and over again,” she said. “I think everybody is really excited and happy that we are accomplishing something.”
At Thursday’s hearing, many expressed concern that the mine might cause irreparable harm to their traditional way of life. Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, said he disagreed with the EPA’s process.
“I think the 404 process denies us due process and I think it’s illegal and we are going to fight against that,” he said.
The Dillingham hearing was one of seven held throughout Alaska this week.