Two public comment opportunities related to development in Bristol Bay are currently open.
EPA Watershed Assessment – Deadline: June 30, 2013.
EPA released the revised version of its Bristol Bay watershed assessment in late April. It had not planned on a second public comment period initially, but opened one up in response to public interest. Just before the stated deadline of May 31, 2013, EPA also decided to extend this second commenting period another 30 days. The revised assessment has been both praised and criticized by different interest groups, and has garnered more than 330,000 comments to date.
Lake Iliamna harbor seal status – Deadline: August 16, 2013
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) ruled on a petition that the Center for Biological Diversity had submitted last November, seeking an endangered or threatened species status for harbor seals that live in Iliamna Lake. NOAA Fisheries determined that there was enough scientific or commercial information to warrant further study on the seal population before making a determination. NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment until August 16, 2013.
Since the comment period overlaps with the summer subsistence and commerical fishing season, NOAA Fisheries has extended the deadline in response to a request from Bristol Bay Native Association/Bristol Bay Marine Mammal Council.
However, the agency could not extend its November 2013 deadline for the completed status review, so is encouraging the public to submit comments as early as possible to allow NOAA Fisheries "more time to review and incorporate the submitted information where appropriate." Currently fewer than five public comments have been received on this topic.
If the harbor seal population is determined to be endangered or threatened, the designation would trigger additional requirements under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) for any development that may impact them or their habitat.
Photo: Courtesy NOAA/Dave Withrow. Harbor seals basking on a sandbar, Iliamna Lake, Summer 2011.
About Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties.