SalmonState joins Bristol Bay organizations in fighting for science in court Calls for EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold’s resignation

ANCHORAGE—Today SalmonState is suing the Environmental Protection Agency and calling for the resignation of EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold for recent actions that threaten the health of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and the communities and business owners who depend on it.

“The leadership at the EPA, a public agency charged with serving the public good, is failing miserably in meeting its responsibilities,” said SalmonState Executive Director Tim Bristol. “In response, we are going to court and calling for the resignation of Leopold, who is clearly making decisions based on politics — not science — and is looking out for a foreign mining company, not for the people. His actions betray the good work and expertise of his own staff, which has leveled strong criticism of mine plans. He needs to go.”

On July 30, EPA announced its decision to arbitrarily withdraw the agency’s 2014 proposed protections, which stemmed from a request by Bristol Bay tribes and fishermen. By withdrawing the Proposed Determination, EPA-appointed administrators have handicapped their own scientists’ ability to protect a resource of, in EPA’s words, “unparalleled ecological value, boasting salmon diversity and productivity unrivaled anywhere in North America.”  The announcement of the withdrawal came less than a month after EPA scientists’ comments on the proposed mine’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement stated the project “may have substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts on fisheries resources in the project area watersheds, which are aquatic resources of national importance.” To add insult to injury, investors in the proposed mine knew of the decision before it was announced, making clear that when it comes to the proposed Pebble Mine, the “process” and the public’s trust have both been broken.

Due to his failure to ensure a fair, rigorous, and scientific permitting process for the proposed mine, SalmonState is also taking the step of calling for EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold to resign. Leopold wrote the June 26 memo requiring scientists to reconsider the protections.

“A ‘fair and rigorous’ process means proponents for the proposed Pebble Mine don’t get to toss out scientific studies that show truths they’d rather ignore,” said Tim Bristol. “With its mine proposal, Pebble Limited Partnership perpetuates a myth that building a colossal open-pit mine will not have negative impacts on the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery; history and the science say otherwise. Unfortunately, backroom deals and cronyism between political appointees and mining lobbyists have left us with no choice but to petition the courts for relief.”

SalmonState works to keep Alaska a place wild salmon thrive.