On January 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action to protect the Bristol Bay Watershed, making a final determination to restrict mining discharges in certain waters there, effectively putting a stop to Pebble Mine. The EPA did the right thing for Bristol Bay and deserves applause. Now, let’s ask the EPA to do the right thing for the Chilkat Watershed, by stepping in on the proposed Palmer Mine, a dangerous sulfide mine at its headwaters.
We have asked you to contact the EPA on Palmer before when we organized letters asking Region 10 administrator, Casey Sixkiller, to conduct due diligence and verify the connection between surface and groundwater at the Palmer discharge site because the wastewater is likely to wind up in the pristine tributaries of the Chilkat and Klehini Rivers. This is a new action.
Update: Since our last action alert, we and our partners have succeeded in securing an adjudicatory hearing to evaluate the Palmer Project’s state wastewater permit, because of that surface-to-groundwater connection. Alongside our hearing request, we have also requested a stay to halt construction of the waste management infrastructure while the permit is being evaluated. We are still waiting for a decision on the stay.
Now we are leveling up and asking EPA national administrator, Michael Regan, to do the right thing for the Chilkat Valley. We are asking EPA to step in and evaluate ADEC’s permit authorization for the Palmer Project, and direct the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to require the proper, more protective permit that is mandated by the Clean Water Act for discharges to surface waters. In Alaska, this is called an Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) permit. The process for obtaining an APDES permit is more rigorous, includes a public process, and does more to protect the downstream watershed from pollution—rightfully making it more difficult to obtain. This part of the Clean Water Act, called Section 402, is administered by the State of Alaska, but when the state fails to adequately administer the Clean Water Act, the EPA needs to step in and take action.
Thank you for taking action to protect the Chilkat Watershed and downstream communities from the proposed Palmer Mine. Fighting mines is hard work, and we need everyone’s voice to make a difference. If you’d like to learn more about the Chilkat Watershed and the Palmer Mine, click here.