Trump Administration Rubber Stamps Pebble Mine Review
WASHINGTON – The Army Corps of Engineers today issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that will pave the way for Pebble Mine, a colossal proposed gold and copper mine that would threaten the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery and the tribal communities that depend on it. The Corps, disregarding overwhelming local opposition and the broad consensus of the scientific community, concludes that the mine will yield “no measurable harm” to the fishery.
The following is a statement from Joel Reynolds, senior attorney with the Nature Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The Army Corps is jamming this through without regard for science or what the public wants—and they know it. To stick to its accelerated schedule, the agency has ignored major fatal flaws in its proposed review—from data gaps to environmental risks to social impacts.
“The last minute change in a transportation route won’t mitigate the nightmare this project poses to water, fish, indigenous people and the region’s whole way of life. Pebble Mine is a failed investment and an environmental disaster waiting to happen, and we will challenge it at every step.”
Pebble Mine would sit at the headwaters of Bristol Bay in southeastern Alaska, home to the world’s most productive salmon fishery, which generates $1.5 billion in annual revenue and 14,000 jobs. Salmon have also sustained the subsistence culture of Alaska Natives for millennia.
The Corps’ proposed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lacked critical information, underestimated the risks to water and fish, and was insufficient to support compliance with the Clean Water Act. The FEIS has substituted a proposed transportation route – eliminating an earlier plan to ferry across Iliamna lake, in favor of a new northern route over land. Notably, the new route cuts through land owned by several Bristol Bay entities that refuse to grant Pebble access to their properties.
The Army Corps will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) no sooner than 30 days. The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c), to veto the project. EPA first initiated the 404(c) process to protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine in 2011 at the express request of Bristol Bay Tribes, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, the commercial and sport fishing industries, conservation organizations and others. Under the Obama administration, and after three years of scientific study that included two independent peer reviews, EPA issued a proposed determination under 404(c) in 2014 that would have placed common sense restrictions on the mine. In a purely political move not supported by reason or science, EPA withdrew the proposed determination last year—choosing instead to rely on the Army Corps’ permitting process.
For more, here is a blog by Taryn Kiekow Heimer, senior advocate for NRDC’s Nature program.
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