"In a high-stakes battle that pits gold and copper against fish, members of Congress are scrapping over a plan to build one of the world's largest open pit mines in southwest Alaska."
"Fearing that toxic wastes from the mine could hurt the wild salmon population in her home state, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell intends to enter the fray today. She plans to ask the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to consider using the Clean Water Act -- if necessary -- to stop the proposed Pebble Mine project in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
Cantwell, a second-term senator and a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will become the first senator to issue such a call. She'll face opposition from Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, who already has introduced a bill that would strip the EPA of its authority to halt the project.
While supporters are excited about the mine's potential to create thousands of jobs and believe it can be developed without harm to the environment, environmental groups and other critics worry that the project would have a devastating impact on fish and wildlife. The bay supplies nearly half of the world's annual sockeye salmon harvest, and the mine would be located in headwaters of two of the five major rivers that feed the bay's salmon runs."