Trump administration denies permit for divisive Alaska mine

Elias Hubbard
Ноября 26, 2020

The mine, one of the world's largest copper and gold deposits, has been through a roller coaster of regulation over the past 13 years. Over two billion salmon have been caught there since record keeping began.

And the decision Wednesday night was praised by local businesses.

On Wednesday evening Brian Kraft, owner of the Alaska Sportsman's Lodge by Illiamna Lake - which would be threatened by the proposed mine - told Carlson's show that he was delighted at the decision.

The Army Corps of Engineers "concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest" and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.

In a formal 29-page record of decision released Wednesday, the Army Corps wrote that the "benefits of the proposed elimination and adjustment of wetlands, streams and other waters within the [Corps] jurisdiction do not outweigh the detriments that would be caused by such eliminations and alterations, based upon the information contained with the [final environmental impact statement], the extensive public comments received, and the analysis of the public interest review factors".

Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns the Pebble Limited Partnership, said it had submitted a mitigation plan on November 16.

If developed, the mine would be one of the largest producers of both copper and gold in the USA, according to a recent presentation by Northern Dynasty, potentially producing an average of about 318 million pounds of copper, 1.8 million ounces of silver and 362,000 ounces of gold annually over a 20-year mine life.

The Trump administration had moved closer in July to approving the mine's permit, reversing a decision by Obama.

However, Trump's eldest son was among those who voiced opposition earlier this year.

Lisa Murkowski, Republican senator for Alaska, tweeted that the Army Corps of Engineers had made "the right decision".

The corps said the discharge plan from the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine's backers, doesn't comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.

'It is very disconcerting to see political influence in this process at the eleventh hour, ' he said.

The mine, spearheaded by Pebble Limited Partnership, a USA offshoot of Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals, was to be a massive gold and copper excavation project, as deep as the Grand Canyon and would create waste that would fill 3,900 NFL football stadiums, reported Market Watch Wednesday. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement.

The company called the decision "politically motivated", pointing to a prior, favorable Environmental Impact Statement from the Army Corps.

The group wants Congress to pass laws protecting the region. It would have needed state approval, and President-elect Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the project.

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew restrictions on development that were proposed - but never finalized - under the Obama administration and said it planned to work with the corps to address concerns.

"How many other projects are strongly opposed by both Alaskan senators, by 80% of the people that live in the region, by commercial fishermen, by recreational fishermen, by Donald Trump Jr., and by Jane Fonda?" said Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Transition team spokesman Jamal Brown said his position remains the same.

Northern Dynasty said the Pebble project would provide a secure supply of strategic minerals, in line with the Biden campaign's goal to boost domestic production of metals used to make electric vehicles, solar panels and other products crucial to his climate plan.

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