San Francisco Chronicle

No per­mit for con­tro­ver­sial mine project

- By Mark Thiessen Mark Thiessen is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

AN­CHOR­AGE, Alaska — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Wed­nes­day de­nied a per­mit for a con­tro­ver­sial gold and cop­per mine near the head­wa­ters of the world’s largest sock­eye sal­mon fish­ery in south­west Alaska.

The Army Corps of En­gi­neers said in a state­ment that the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion to build the Peb­ble Mine was de­nied un­der both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Har­bors Act.

The corps said the dis­charge plan from the Peb­ble Lim­ited Part­ner­ship, the mine’s back­ers, doesn’t com­ply with Clean

Water Act guide­lines.

The agency “con­cluded that the pro­posed project is con­trary to the public in­ter­est,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment from Col. Damon De­larosa, com­man­der of the corps’ Alaska dis­trict.

Peb­ble part­ner­ship CEO John Shively said he was dis­mayed, es­pe­cially af­ter the corps had in­di­cated in an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment in July that the mine and fish­ery could co­ex­ist.

“One of the real tragedies of this de­ci­sion is the loss of eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple liv­ing in the area,” Shively said in a state­ment. The en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view

“clearly de­scribes those ben­e­fits, and now a po­lit­i­cally driven de­ci­sion has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost op­por­tu­nity for the state’s fu­ture econ­omy.”

The de­nial comes as some­what of a sur­prise.

The Corps of En­gi­neers in July re­leased an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view that the mine de­vel­oper saw as lay­ing the ground­work

for key fed­eral ap­provals. The re­view said that un­der nor­mal op­er­a­tions, Peb­ble Mine, pro­posed for south­west Alaska’s Bris­tol Bay re­gion, “would not be ex­pected to have a mea­sur­able ef­fect on fish num­bers and re­sult in longterm changes to the health of the com­mer­cial fish­eries in Bris­tol Bay.”

How­ever, in Au­gust, the corps said it had de­ter­mined that dis­charges at the mine site

would cause “un­avoid­able ad­verse im­pacts to aquatic re­sources” and laid out re­quired ef­forts to re­duce those ef­fects. That prompted Alaska’s Repub­li­can U.S. sen­a­tors to op­pose the project. Sen. Dan Sul­li­van, who won re­elec­tion in Novem­ber, went so far as to de­clare the project “dead.”

Canad­abased North­ern Dy­nasty Min­er­als Ltd., which owns the Peb­ble Lim­ited Part­ner­ship, said it had sub­mit­ted a mit­i­ga­tion plan on Nov. 16.

If the project were to have se­cured ap­proval from the corps, there was still no guar­an­tee it would have been built. It would have needed state ap­proval, and Pres­i­den­t­elect Joe Bi­den has ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to the project.

Last year, the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency with­drew re­stric­tions on de­vel­op­ment that were pro­posed — but never fi­nal­ized — un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and said it planned to work with the corps to ad­dress con­cerns.

 ?? Becky Bohrer / As­so­ci­ated Press 2019 ?? Protesters gath­ered out­side Sen. Lisa Murkowski's of­fice in Juneau, Alaska, last year to protest the pro­posed Peb­ble Mine.
Becky Bohrer / As­so­ci­ated Press 2019 Protesters gath­ered out­side Sen. Lisa Murkowski's of­fice in Juneau, Alaska, last year to protest the pro­posed Peb­ble Mine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA