Federal officials said Tuesday they would not block a proposed copper and gold mine near Alaska's Bristol Bay despite objections by critics who contend it would imperil a fishery and harm wetlands and streams.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outraged opponents of the Pebble Mine by announcing that it was withdrawing the agency's option under the Clean Water Act to veto the project. The decision undoes Obama-era environmental restrictions, freeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide whether to permit the controversial mine.
EPA - Officials - Washington - Agency - Seattle
EPA officials in Washington appeared to overrule the agency's Seattle branch, which spent years researching the potential environmental impact and taking public comments on a potential veto, and recently submitted a highly critical review of the mining proposal. The Clean Water Act gives regional EPA administrators authority to step in when they determine proposed projects would likely damage fisheries or wildlife habitat.
Chris Hladick, EPA regional administrator in Seattle, had found "weaknesses" in an Army Corps draft environmental impact statement, writing July 1 that it likely underestimated adverse impacts on water quality and fish resources. But Hladick, directed by a top EPA official last month to consider whether to withdraw the agency's veto option, signed Tuesday's notice doing so.
Agency - Decision - Lifeline - Canada - Northern
The agency's decision throws a lifeline to Canada's Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which seeks permits to process 180,000 tons of ore a day for 20 years at the remote site 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. The mine would draw power from a 188-mile natural-gas pipeline to be built across Cook Inlet and Lake Iliamna, Alaska's biggest lake. An ice-breaking ferry would carry ore across the lake, linked to 77 miles of...
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