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Business/Economy

Pebble parent company to appeal Army Corps’ decision to reject mine permit

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: December 17, 2020
  • Published December 17, 2020

The parent company of the Pebble Limited Partnership said it is appealing the Trump administration’s recent decision to deny a key permit for the controversial mine proposal in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska.

In a written statement Thursday, Northern Dynasty Minerals President and CEO Ron Thiessen said the rejection was “without precedent in the long history of responsible resource development in Alaska.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in November said Pebble’s plans to develop the copper and gold mine did not comply with the Clean Water Act and “is contrary to the public interest.”

The Army Corps’ decision followed a series of notable developments this year, including opposition to the mine from Donald Trump Jr., a seemingly supportive tweet from the president, and an environmental group releasing secretly recorded tapes of Thiessen and Pebble’s former chief executive, Tom Collier, speaking openly about their relationships with political leaders in Alaska. Collier resigned, and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, released a statement condemning the mine proposal.

On Thursday, Thiessen in his statement said the developers had attempted to develop “mitigation requirements that were both extreme and unprecedented in Alaska” in order to get the permit, and argued its plans were rejected “on the basis of what we believe to be largely minor and arbitrary deficiencies.”

Army Corps Alaska District spokesman John Budnik said Thursday that the agency has not yet received the appeal.

Since the Army Corps’ decision, Pebble opponents and some Alaska leaders, including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are pushing early efforts to make the land where the mine is proposed permanently off limits to development.

Earlier this month, a coalition of Bristol Bay groups — United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Native Association and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. — said they would push for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to veto the mine and for legislation to permanently protect the waters of Bristol Bay.

“Although we are relieved that Pebble’s permit application has been denied, our people must be assured that no matter the political winds, our way of life is protected from the threat of mining in our region,” said BBNA President and CEO Ralph Andersen in a statement.

During his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden said he would work to halt the mine after taking office.

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