Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, VoteWater.org, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
1. State of Alaska Sues EPA Over Pebble Mine Veto
Like Michael Meyers in the Halloween movies, the Pebble Mine project refuses to die. Back in January, the EPA’s decision to put in place Clean Water Act 404(c) safeguards for the headwaters of Bristol Bay seemed to be a final stake through the heart for a mine that represented an existential threat to world’s largest wild sockeye-salmon population and the ecosystem that depends on it. But here we go again:
The state of Alaska is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its final determination halting the Pebble mine, and is asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Using its authority under the Clean Water Act, in January the EPA issued a rare veto of Pebble — a controversial copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska — and future similar mines in a 309-square-mile area in the Bristol Bay region. The move infuriated proponents of the project, including officials in Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and project developer Pebble Limited Partnership, who called it illegal federal overreach.
An overwhelming majority of Alaskans support protecting Bristol Bay, yet their state government is trying to reverse the decision. As you might imagine, the coalition of conservation organizations that has fought this battle for almost two decades has vowed to stop this new attempt to revive the mine. Nelli Williams of Trout Unlimited-Alaska was unequivocal in her response:
The governor is ignoring Alaskans and science with this lawsuit. And even more appalling, he is using public funds to prop up out-of-state mining executives at the expense of Alaska’s salmon and all the people who rely on them. . . . We will continue to defend existing protections for Bristol Bay and advocate for long-term safeguards that protect Alaskan jobs, fishing opportunities and ways of life.
The state of Alaska hopes to have its case heard by the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.
2. 10 Years After Florida’s “Lost Summer,” Algal Blooms Threaten Again
In 2013, massive algal blooms—which began on Lake Okeechobee and then spread to both coasts via the St. Lucia and Caloosahatchee Rivers—created an environmental emergency in South Florida. While conservation organizations commemorate the sad anniversary, conditions in the region are making folks wary of a repeat event. The lake is currently covered in blue-green algae, and water levels are high, which could force discharges. One big storm could push the system to the brink, says Dr. Steve Davis of the Everglades Foundation.
For a full discussion of the problem, don’t miss the interactive feature
It’s Toxic Slime Time on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee from the New York Times