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Donald Trump Jr. opposes Pebble mine as Trump administration weighs key permit

In this Feb. 19, 2020, photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before his father appears at an event in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

Donald Trump Jr. said Tuesday on Twitter he opposes the Pebble mine prospect, as the Trump administration considers whether to issue a key permit for construction.

Retweeting a post calling on the federal government to block the copper and gold mine, Trump Jr. said the Bristol Bay region is too important to put at risk.

“As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with,” Trump Jr. tweeted.

Trump Jr. has hunted wildlife in Alaska and fished in the Bristol Bay region, according to news accounts.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, signaled concern about a recently completed environmental review of the project.

“My staff and I are continuing to review the Army Corps of Engineers Final Environmental Impact Statement, but I am increasingly concerned that (the final review) may not adequately address the issues identified in the draft (review) regarding the full risks of the project as proposed to the Bristol Bay watershed and fishery,” Sullivan said. “I am also continuing to make sure that Alaska’s voices are being heard on this project at the highest levels of government – including the White House.”

Independent Senate candidate Al Gross, running against Sullivan, called on the senator on Tuesday to “come out against the Pebble Mine immediately.”

“It’s high time for Dan Sullivan to wake up, embrace independent thinking in doing what’s right for Alaska — not just blindly follow whatever it is that special interests or Washington insiders tell us,” a statement from Gross’ campaign said.

Matt Shuckerow, Sullivan’s campaign manager, declined to respond.

Last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final environmental review of the mine proposal that critics fear set the stage for the Trump administration to approve a key construction permit.

But the agency has yet to decide on whether to issue the permit. That decision could come as early as this month.

Groups opposed to the prospect, which would be built near headwaters of the valuable Bristol Bay salmon fishery about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, have said they’ll call on the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the project.

Trump Jr.‘s tweet came in reply to a post from Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

“Like millions of conservationists and sportsmen, I am hoping @realDonaldTrump will direct @EPA to block the Pebble mine in Bristol Bay,” Ayers said in the tweet. “A Canadian company will unnecessarily mine the USA’s greatest fishery at a severe cost. This should be stopped and I believe @POTUS will do so!”

The president’s son and Ayers are “wrong,” mine developer Pebble Limited Partnership said in a statement.

The final environmental review “concludes that Pebble mine will not harm the Bristol Bay salmon fishery,” said the statement, provided by Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwole.

“We do not believe that the President will interfere with this statutory process,” and a final decision will be issued in the next few months, the statement said.

Pebble’s opponents have criticized the Corps’ two-year-long environmental review process, calling it skewed toward developer Pebble Limited Partnership and lacking scientific rigor.

Trump Jr.‘s tweet evoked shock in the Bristol Bay region.

“Wow,” said Alannah Hurley, head of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a 15-tribe consortium opposed to the mine.

“This is a shining example of how valuable Bristol Bay is to the nation,” she said. “People literally on polar opposites of the political divide know Bristol Bay is a national treasure and one of the last best places for salmon on the planet that has to be protected from threats like the Pebble mine.”

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