Monday, May 15, 2017

Disputed Alaskan Pebble Mine blocked by Obama finds new life under Trump

The controversial Pebble Mine project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed that seemed all but dead under the Obama administration has found new life under President Trump, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report for The Washington Post. The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday reached a legal settlement with Pebble Limited Partnership, which for years has been "hoping to build a massive gold, copper and molybdenum mine, clearing the way for the firm to apply for federal permits."
New York Times map

"While the move does not grant immediate approval to the Pebble Mine project, which will have to undergo a federal environmental review and also clear state hurdles before any construction takes place, it reverses the agency’s 2014 determination that a large-scale mine in the area be barred because it would imperil the region’s valuable sockeye salmon fishery," reports the Post.

"In 2014 EPA invoked a rarely used clause of the Clean Water Act, 404(c), to issue a proposed determination that the company could not apply to the Army Corps of Engineers for any permits because a massive mine could have 'significant' and potentially 'catastrophic' impacts on the region," reports the Post. "The company has sued EPA on three different fronts, arguing that the agency violated the Clean Water Act, colluded with outside groups to reach its determination and violated the Freedom of Information Act. The suit concerning the outside groups, filed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, was the one settled Thursday in federal court in Alaska."

"Under the terms of the agreement, EPA will begin the process of withdrawing its proposed determination, which will be subject to public notice and comment," reports the Post. "It will not take the next step in the process until 48 months from the settlement or until the Army Corps of Engineers issues its final environmental impact statement, whichever comes first."

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