The developer behind the proposed Pebble mine on Monday announced that the final report needed to potentially win approval for a key permit has been submitted to federal regulators.
President Donald Trump’s administration could make a decision on whether to permit the copper and gold prospect before he leaves office on Jan. 20, either allowing the controversial project to advance or stopping it. A decision could also come later, under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
The mine would be built about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Bristol Bay region.
The so-called mitigation plan from Pebble Limited Partnership is meant to address a requirement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In August, the agency said that Pebble must select lands in the region for protection to offset damage the mine would cause, if it is built.
Experts have said the request is a uniquely high bar for Pebble because the region, home to a valuable sockeye salmon fishery, is pristine and not in need of protection.
The Pebble mine proposal has been roiled in recent months as Alaska’s U.S. senators and other Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr., have denounced the project. Some of the denouncements came after an environmental group released secretly recorded tapes that caught Pebble executives making comments the senators and others have said are false.
Pebble believes the newly submitted plan meets the Corps' requirements and underscores how the mine can coexist with fishing in the region, according to a statement from Ron Thiessen, head of Pebble parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals.
In a statement Monday, Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, said Pebble can’t mitigate its way out of the dangers the mine poses to the fishery.
The conservation group wants to see a special action from the Environmental Protection Agency to halt the mine. Biden opposes the mine and has indicated he’ll halt it, perhaps through the EPA.
The Corps is reviewing the report, said John Budnik, a Corps spokesman, on Monday.
“If and when we determine it to be compliant with applicable regulations, then we will post it to the (project) website,” he said.