BB tribes want a voice in long term regional protections

United Tribes of Bristol Bay say a request for a regional leadership meeting with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to discuss long-term protections for the area has to date been unanswered.

UTBB said on Wednesday, Nov. 18, that they joined with other Bristol Bay organizations last month in asking Murkowski to meet with them but that she has yet to do so, instead sharing her plans only through news media.

“It is a shame that Senator Murkowski is more interested in politics than in truly protecting our lands and waters, said Lindsay Layland, deputy director of UTBB. “Her statements today made clear that Bristol Bay is being treated as a bargaining chip. This is not acceptable. A Clean Water Act veto of the proposed Pebble mine is the permanent, legal way to ensure that Bristol Bay’s communities, economies and ways of life continue to thrive for future generations. It is legal and it is time. The EPA must listen to the people and veto this project.”

Layland was referring to comments made by the Alaska Republican in E&E News, that she has been talking to people “in the region and the state.” To date she has not responded to a meeting request from the organizations that represent the vast majority of people in Bristol Bay, according to UTBB.

This is an indication that she is politicizing the cause of protecting the region, at the expense of the people of Bristol Bay, UTBB said. The main issue is that Bristol Bay tribes asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 to permanently protect the region from the threat of a large-scale hard rock mine like the Pebble mine through use of the Clean water Act, after considering a range of actions, the tribal entity said. These scientifically-based protections have received solid support in Bristol Bay and throughout the nation in multiple comment periods over the past decade, they said.