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Politics Army Corps rejects permit for controversial gold mine project opposed by Don Trump Jr.

21:45  25 november  2020
21:45  25 november  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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U.S. Army Corps says mine is contrary to public interest. Mine drew opposition from Donald Trump Jr ., conservationists. The Army Corps issued a record of decision denying Pebble’s permit , after determining the “How many other projects are strongly opposed by both Alaskan senators, by 80

The House Oversight Committee Monday called for two inspector general offices to investigate the Army Corps of Engineers' recent environmental review of the controversial Pebble Mine project proposed for Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The Trump administration has rejected a permit for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska, likely dealing the project’s final blow even before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

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The Army Corps, in a record of decision Wednesday, determined the project didn’t comply with federal water quality regulations. Specifically, it said Pebble developers’ plan “for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines,” and therefore, the Army Corps “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest.”

The decision “reflects a regulatory process that is fair, flexible and balanced,” said Col. Damon Delarosa, the Corps’ Alaska District commander, in a statement.

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The Trump administration was likely Pebble Mine’s last chance for approval, as Biden has said outright that he would kill the project. Environmentalists and Democrats have said the project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would jeopardize one of the world’s largest salmon habitats.

"One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area," said John Shively, acting CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s owner and a subsidiary of Canadian-based Northern Dynasty Mineral. He pointed to an environmental impact statement issued by the Army Corps in July that found the project would pose no serious risks.

"The EIS clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life," Shively added. "This is also a lost opportunity for the state's future economy — especially at a time when Alaska is seeing record job losses from the impacts associated with COVID."

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The Corps issued a permit allowing Donlin Gold to place fill material such as gravel into U.S. waters. The agency said an estimated 3,500 acres of wetlands and 226,000 linear feet of streams would be impacted. BLM issued a permit for the pipeline right-of-way over federal lands.

The blow comes after the project, which would be the largest gold and copper mine in North America, has hit several political roadblocks in the past few months.

Prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr., voiced strong opposition to the project over the summer, and in August, the Army Corps directed Pebble Mine’s developers to take significant additional measures before it can be permitted to compensate for harms the mine will have on wetlands and streams. The mine’s critics had called the requirements near-impossible.

However, Pebble developers had expressed confidence they could meet the requirements, and Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy had encouraged President Trump to keep politics out of the review process.

The political landscape shifted a month later, though, after an environmental group released secretly recorded tapes of Pebble executives attempting to woo investors. Statements they made during those recordings didn’t match what they said publicly about the project, including whether they’d seek to expand it, and the executives boasted of ties with Alaska politicians that would smooth the project’s path forward.

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Those recordings led to immense backlash. Tom Collier, then-CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, stepped down after the tapes were made public. Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan came out strongly against the project.

Environmentalists and Democrats immediately celebrated the Army Corps’ rejection of Pebble Mine’s permit Wednesday.

“Sometimes a project is so bad, so indefensible, that the politics fall to the wayside, and we get the right decision,” said Tim Bristol, executive director of the Alaska-based environmental group SalmonState. “This is what happened today.”

Tags: News, Energy and Environment, Climate Change, Alaska, Pebble Mine

Original Author: Abby Smith

Original Location: Army Corps rejects permit for controversial gold mine project opposed by Don Trump Jr.

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usr: 5
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