Trump administration rejects Alaska’s massive mining project

The Army Corps said in a statement that it had set out the mining company’s plan to deal with the huge amount of rock and other aggregates displaced by the mine “does not comply with the guidelines of the Clean Water Act and [ACE] concluded that the proposed project was contrary to the public interest. This operation is based on all available facts and complies with applicable laws and regulations. This reflects a fair, flexible and balanced regulatory process. ”

John Shively, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, a U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals, said in a statement that the government’s decision had “scared” him and promised he would appeal.

“Since the start of the federal review, our team has worked closely with USACE staff to understand their requirements for responsible project development, including changing the transportation corridor and redesigning the approach to wetland mitigation,” Shively said in a statement. “It is very embarrassing to have political influence in this process at the eleventh hour.”

The mining project generally divided Republicans and Alaskan politicians in favor of expanding domestic mineral production. President Donald Trump faced public pressure from Republicans, including donor Andy Sabin, CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to block the project.

The mine’s outlook deteriorated further over the summer with the release of secretly recorded tapes featuring then-CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, Tom Collier, boasting of how he would influence Alaskan politicians in the final support of the project. These prompted Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to reinforce their total resistance with the projection after sending mixed signals up to that point.

The 29-page official protocol of the Army Corps includes: the proposed elimination of wetlands, streams and other waters; [Corps] its jurisdiction does not exceed the damages caused by such terminations and changes, [final environmental impact statement], an analysis of the wide – ranging comments received and the review factors of public interest. “

Environmental groups were happy with the move.

“For safety’s sake, this cherished area, the tribes and communities of Bristol Bay, and its wildlife and waters,” said Joel Reynolds, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Conservation Council. “This region has been surrounded by uncertainty about its fate for a decade, and this move recognizes that it has never been possible to mitigate the damage caused by the Pebble Mine.”

Reynolds called on the EPA to reject Pebble’s 404c permit application for “permanent protection” of the watershed.

Democrats, many of whom have been opposed to the project for years, quickly welcomed the announcement.

“I am pleased that the Engineering Directorate and the Army did the right thing in refusing permission for the Clean Water Act for the Gravel Bay project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region,” Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said in a statement from the Energy Committee. “I understand the important role mining plays in our economy, but the final environmental impact assessment of the project was not close enough to provide me with this world-class sockeye salmon fishery that generates $ 1.5 billion a year and supports 14,000 jobs. protected.”

Alaska’s only congressman, Don Young (R-Alaska), said in a statement that he was “disappointed,” the process would not allow Alaskans to get enough involved, and blamed “outside extremists” for the decision.

“Now we need to consider how the federal government will compensate the state for the loss of economic potential,” Young said. “The proposed mine has always been subject to political intrigue and the whims of outsiders who simply do not understand our state.”

Zack Colman contributed to the report