By Jackie Bartz
Channel 2 News
5:43 PM AKDT, September 12, 2011
Congress is weighing in on the debate over the proposed gold and copper mine, known as Pebble Mine, in the Bristol Bay area.
Monday, Washington state Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to prohibit Pebble Mine if a watershed assessment showed the project could harm valuable fish stock in the area.
In February, the EPA announced it would conduct a watershed assessment of the Bristol Bay area.
"Should scientists determine that pollution from a large-scale development in the Bristol Bay watershed could have unacceptable adverse impacts on water quality and the fish stocks that depend on it, I would support efforts to prohibit or appropriately restrict such activities, including the utilization of Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act," Cantwell wrote in her letter to the EPA.
Cantwell sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has had harsh criticism for the EPA.
"Attempts to prejudge development in the Bristol Bay area before a permit application has even been submitted would make a mockery out of the federal environmental review process. A preemptive veto makes no more sense than a preemptive approval," Murkowski said in a statement released today.
The Pebble Partnership has yet to file a mining development permit.
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