The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first steps toward possibly restricting or even prohibiting development of a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of a world-premier sockeye salmon fishery in southwest Alaska.
The federal agency will ask the state and those behind the proposed Pebble Mine to make their case for the project.
An EPA report, released in January, found large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risk to salmon.
The action being announced Friday is what Pebble supporters have feared. Mine opponents have urged EPA to take steps to protect the region.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says her agency is exercising its authority to ensure protection of the fishery from risks it faces "from what could be one of the largest open pit mines on earth."
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