A television ad on Fox News from the developer of the Pebble copper and gold mine in Southwest Alaska seems to have gotten the ear of President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday tweeted that politics will not play a role in whether the mine is permitted.
“Don’t worry, wonderful & beautiful Alaska, there will be NO POLITICS in the Pebble Mine Review Process. I will do what is right for Alaska and our great Country!!!” the president tweeted.
Tom Collier, chief executive of Pebble Limited, said the company decided to run the ads on Fox to reach the administration and remind officials of the president’s policy of keeping politics out of permitting procedures.
The ad features former President Barack Obama, a favorite target of Trump, when it says that the Obama administration attempted to halt the project after putting “politics over policy.”
“President Trump, continue to stand tall, and don’t let politics enter the Pebble mine review process,” the ad says.
Trump, a frequent Fox viewer, may have responded directly to the ad, Collier said. The president’s tweet came Wednesday night after the ad ran and seemed to follow the ad’s message closely, he said.
“That’s what it looks like to me, but gosh, who knows,” Collier said.
The commercial ran during Fox host Tucker Carlson’s show, about one hour before the president’s tweet, Collier said.
The tweet comes weeks after the fortunes of the Southwest Alaska project seemed to sink.
Prominent Republicans have come out against the mine, including Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted his opposition last month. Then Carlson hosted a show criticizing the project. The Trump administration soon after said the mine can’t be permitted “as currently proposed.”
The project, about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage near headwaters for the valuable Bristol Bay salmon fishery, has been a lightning rod for years.
The president’s tweet is a good sign for the project, and confirms what Pebble Limited has been saying all along, Collier said.
“This project is cruising down the normal permitting path” without political influence, Collier said.
Every official he’s heard from has said politics won’t play a role in the project, he said.
“I see the presidential tweet as confirming that," Collier said.
Nelli Williams, director of Trout Unlimited’s program in Alaska, said the way to keep politics out of the process is for the Trump administration to deny the permit.
She pointed out the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in August determined preliminarily that “discharges at the mine site would cause unavoidable adverse impacts" and “significant degradation” to aquatic resources.
“Pebble had their chance to go through the process,” she said. “They failed to meet the standard, and Alaskans are overwhelmingly opposed to this. It’s time for Pebble to go away.”
The Corps has asked Pebble to show how it would compensate for wetlands the mine will destroy, by protecting similar wetlands in the same area where the mine will be built.
Pebble is currently working on a mitigation plan that will do that, meeting the requirements of federal law so the project can be permitted, Collier has said. A draft of the plan will be submitted to the Corps in about a week or so, he said.
Stock prices for Northern Dynasty Minerals, the parent owner of Pebble, jumped 20% on Thursday.