Half The World’s Salmon Supply Threatened As Trump’s EPA Withdraws Alaskan Mining Restrictions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the go-ahead on Friday for a massive copper and gold mining operation to seek permits to mine the headwaters of an Obama-era protected world-class fishery in southwest Alaska.

After an agreement through a court settlement, the EPA will start withdrawing restrictions on mining development in the Bristol Bay region, a pristine Alaskan fishery that provides the world with half of its sockeye salmon.

This unfortunate agreement comes only four months after Trump came into office, which the Pebble mine supporters hoped would be their ticket to big money through Trump’s promises of environmental deregulation.

Environmental rights groups are worried this agreement will act as a dangerous precedent for industry to challenge the EPA in court on environmental issues they previously wouldn’t have gone after during the Obama Administration.

“It obviously sends a psychological message to big mining companies that if they were nervous about getting permits in the past … that this is their golden opportunity to get their mine through the process.” said Brett Harti, the government affairs director for the center for biological Diversity environment group.

It’s being called a “backdoor deal” by critics and a “slap in the face” to the citizens of the Bristol Bay region who petitioned to keep the region protected.

The Pebble company sued the EPA in federal court claiming the agency colluded with environmental groups to block the mining project. The suit followed an EPA study that concluded the proposed large-scale mining posed a siginificant risk to the region’s salmon and cause adverse effects to Alaskan Natives who based their culture around the salmon resources in the area. The EPA inspector general found no evidence that the EPA predetermined the outcome of the study in any way.

“Protecting Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine has been a priority issue for the hook-and-bullet community for 10 years. This was a real test for President Trump, who said all the right things to sportsmen during the election,” said Scott Hed, the director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska.

“This is a direct assault on our values. America’s hunters and anglers are extremely disappointed but we will not let up in the fight to protect Bristol Bay.”

Photo by: Sergi Reboredo/VW Pics/UIG via Getty Images