|New York Times map; mine site lies in two watersheds|
The project, located "right near the headwaters of some of Bristol Bay’s major salmon rivers," has "encountered stiff opposition from local fishermen, Alaskan Native groups, and their environmental and political allies around the country," Sohn writes. "Early last year, the combination of bad PR, spooked investors, declining copper prices, logistical and infrastructural challenges, unresolved court battles, and a proposed intervention by the Environmental Protection Agency seemed to have rendered Pebble an extreme long shot. Northern Dynasty’s stock, worth twenty-one dollars a share five years earlier, bottomed out at twenty-one cents."
"On Nov. 9, the day after Donald Trump won, Northern Dynasty’s share price jumped twenty-five per cent; by early February of this year, it had more than quadrupled in value," Sohn writes. "Soon the company was being touted as a virtual sure thing in investor newsletters and chat rooms—'Trump’s gold' became a popular refrain." While "Republicans in Congress have long seen Pebble as a casualty of the EPA’s regulatory overreach, the Trump Administration has made no public statements concerning the mine, nor has it had any direct contact with Northern Dynasty."
“Even if EPA stands down and a major investor comes on board, the mine still faces a daunting level of local activism and opposition," Sohn writes. Tim Bristol, the executive director of the Alaskan conservation group SalmonState, told him, “Pebble does not have an EPA problem. They have an Alaska problem. It’s the development project that Alaskans love to hate.”
The mine is unpopular in Alaska, and only getting more so, Sohn writes. Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, "has spoken out against the mine, and the GOP-dominated state legislature has grown increasingly skeptical—a particularly important development, since a 2014 ballot measure, supported by two-thirds of voters, gave it veto power over any mine proposal in Bristol Bay."