The Pebble mine in Alaska was dealt a potentially lethal blow after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected an essential permit for the project.
The Trump administration on Wednesday effectively killed a contentious proposed mine in Alaska, a gold and copper prospect once envisioned to be almost as deep as the Grand Canyon and could produce enough waste to fill an National Football League stadium almost 3,900 times - all near the headwaters of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.
The Army Corps of Engineers "concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest" and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.
Northern Dynasty said the Pebble project would provide a secure supply of strategic minerals, in line with the Biden campaign's goal to boost domestic production of metals used to make electric vehicles, solar panels and other products crucial to his climate plan.
The Pebble Mine Partnership said it was "dismayed" by the decision and its Canadian parent company, Northern Dynasty Minerals, vowed to lodge an appeal within 60 days.
'It was a little bit of a surprise, but we knew all along that if we got people to allow scientists to make the decisions, and army corps of engineers listened to the science, we would prevail, ' he said. Conservationists, local activists and fishing operations have fought the project for years, citing potential impacts on the environment and native cultures in the region.
President Trump vacillated on the topic, though his son, Donald Trump Jr., a hunting and fishing enthusiast, was likely a highly influential figure in the administration's decision to ultimately block the mine that was expected to drastically effect the fishing industry.
The decision was heralded by Alaska's two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. "This is the right decision, reached the right way", Murkowski said in an emailed statement.
"It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource - Bristol Bay's world-class salmon fishery", she said.
If developed, the mine would be one of the largest producers of both copper and gold in the US, according to a recent presentation by Northern Dynasty, potentially producing an average of about 318 million pounds of copper, 1.8 million ounces of silver and 362,000 ounces of gold annually over a 20-year mine life.
Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, a group dedicated to protecting Alaska's salmon habitat, heralded the move Wednesday.
Northern Dynasty's USA shares plunged 50% in NY, more than erasing its entire gain this year.
"How many other projects are strongly opposed by both Alaskan senators, by 80% of the people that live in the region, by commercial fishermen, by recreational fishermen, by Donald Trump Jr., and by Jane Fonda?" said Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's astonishing the range of opposition, and that, I think, puts it in a unique category".
The project took a further public-relations blow in September after the release of covertly taped comments revealed a top mining executive boasting of his ties to state and federal leaders.
Critics saw Pebble Mine as getting a lifeline under the Trump administration. However, given the special nature of the Bristol Bay watershed and the fisheries and subsistence resources downstream, Pebble had to meet a high bar so that we do not trade one resource for another.
Shively accused the decision of being "politically motivated" and pointed to Presient-elect Joe Biden's claim that more copper will be needed as the country seeks to advance renewable energy - though Biden flatly said he would not support the Pebble Mine project.
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