Corps refuses permission for controversial mines that threaten Alaskan salmon habitat

Northern Dynasty Minerals’ plan to create North America’s largest gold, copper and molybdenum mine is “not in line with the Clean Water Act guidelines” and “contrary to the public interest,” said Damon Delarosa, commander of the U.S. Army Engineering Board in Alaska. colonel. in a statement on Wednesday.

The company called the decision “politically motivated,” citing an earlier statement by the military about a positive environmental impact.

“At a time when the U.S. was declaring a‘ national emergency ’because it relied too heavily on foreign producers for the critical minerals needed to ensure the country’s future economic and military security, it is unreasonable to determine that one of the strategic and critical the largest accumulation of minerals “is not in the public interest”.

While the Northern Dynasty promises an appeal, the decision represents a huge victory for Alaskan tribes, fishermen and nature lovers who feared toxic waste from the mine and the roads, harbors and pipelines needed to support it could worsen the pristine spawning grounds of Bristol Bay. More than two billion salmon have been caught there since the record began.

“Sometimes a project is so bad, so defenseless, that the policy is turned over and we get the right decision. That’s what happened today,” said Tim Bristol, managing director of SalmonState. “But refusing permission does not mean that Bristol Bay is safe from the threats of the Gravel Mine. The next critical step is to restore the protections of the Clean Water Act. This may and must be an early priority for the Biden administration.”

Although the Trump administration has reversed the protection of water and wildlife at an unprecedented rate, Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson were among opponents of the Gravel Mine in a struggle that sometimes put Republicans ahead of Republicans.

Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s GOP Senate, said in a statement on Wednesday that the denial of official approval by the Army Corps was “the right decision, the right way.”

Murkowski and his colleagues, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, wrote a letter to Thiessen this week expressing their opposition and demanding that the Northern Dynasty’s mitigation plans be made public.

“A significant portion of the public has lost confidence in what their leaders are actually planning to do,” they wrote.

But the biggest blow to the Northern Dynasty’s plans came when environmental guards, who emerged as Chinese investors, secretly recorded “Gravel Ribbons” on which top leaders were captured, detailing their pleasant mood over U.S. lawmakers and regulators.

“I mean, we can talk to the White House chief of staff at any time, but he wants to be careful at all times because it’s all being recorded,” Thiessen noted. “You don’t want to be seen if you’re trying to exert undue influence.”

A series of calls from the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency since August have embarrassed Alaska’s strongest politicians as Thiessen and Tom Collier, former CEO of the U.S. subsidiary Pebble Limited Partnership, sounded shocked.

“The governor I consider a friend,” Collier says of Alaskan Republican Mike Dunleavy. “I had the governor’s largest private fundraiser in my home when he took office, and it’s not uncommon for the governor to call me.”

Thiessen also described how Pebble uses Dunleavy as a back channel for the White House to avoid public scrutiny, and how friendly insiders from the Army Engineering Board help them circumvent the complicated licensing process. “Typically, with the Army’s engineering body, if there’s something that’s going to be unusual, they’ll try to get that information as soon as possible,” Thiessen said.

Dunleavy’s office would later claim that “the individuals in these videos have beautified their relationships with state and federal officials at all levels,” while Army Engineering officials say the tapes do not accurately represent their interactions with Pebble leaders.

“We have strived for transparency, cooperation, accuracy and expediency in the decision-making process,” Delarosa said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Gravel Strips brought the most severe refutations from Alaska’s two GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who were depicted on the cassettes as political animals who secretly approved the Pebble Mine.

“Senator Murkowski is very political,” Thiessen says with a ribbon. “In his heart, he wants the project to continue. He’s going to say things that sometimes appeal to people’s emotions, but they don’t hurt the project.”

Collier also claimed that both senators were “just sitting like they were in a corner and silent,” embarrassed by their confusion over the military engineering body’s July letter, which seemed to cast doubt on the mine.

In a firm statement issued in September, Murkowski said that “major resource development has been brought to the high-level bar at the Bristol Bay watershed. The reality of this situation is that the Pebble project did not meet this band and has permission not to may be issued to him. “

The Northern Dynasty apologized to “all Alaska” after Pebble Tapes was made public and announced the resignation of Collier, who would have sought a $ 12 million bonus if the mine were allowed.

“We want to continue the fight until this project is vetoed under the Clean Water Act,” said Drew Hamilton, a former Alaskan state biologist, bear watch guide and founder of McNeil River Friends. “If there is permanent protection in Bristol Bay, there will be something for the people, wildlife and businesses of Bristol Bay that they can be really grateful for.”