Thursday, November 26, 2020

Corps denies permit for huge mine in Bristol Bay watershed after GOP division, surreptitious recordings of executives

New York Times map
The Army Corps of Engineers "denied a permit for the Pebble Mine in Alaska on Wednesday, effectively killing plans to build the massive copper and gold project that opponents had warned could wipe out the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery" in Bristol Bay, report Anthony Adranga and Annie Snider of Politico. "The decision from the Trump administration, which had reversed course several times on the issue, comes just weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Biden has said he opposed the project."

Pebble Limited Partnership, said it would appeal. the U.S. subsidiary of Canadian mining firm Northern Dynasty Minerals said it was dismayed because it had revised its plan in recent months to mitigate issues raised by environmentalists. But this time the enviros had unusual allies, and the developers talked too much, dooming their case.

The project "divided Republicans and Alaska politicians normally in favor of expanding domestic mineral production," Politico notes. "President Donald Trump faced a public pressure campaign from Republicans, including mega-donor Andy Sabin, Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to block the project."

Then, secret recordings of Pebble's CEO at the time revealed him "boasting about how he would influence Alaskan politicians," prompting Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to "affirm their outright opposition to the projection after sending mixed signals up until that point," Politico reports. 

In the recording, Pebble executives also "suggested that they were planning for a much larger mine, and one that would operate far longer, than what had been proposed to the Corps," The New York Times reports. "The recordings were obtained by an environmental advocacy group, with two members who were posing as potential investors in the project meeting by video with two project executives. The executives described how the mine could operate for 160 years or more beyond the proposed 20 years, and how its output could double after the first two decades."

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