A decision on whether or not to block work on Northern Dynasty’s Pebble Mine in Alaska from the U.S. Environmental Protection Ageceny (EPA) will have to wait until February.
The EPA, which has received more than 155,000 comments and heard from hundreds of community members at seven public hearings, said it would stay its Section 404(c) Clean Water Act regulatory process against the Pebble Project until at least January 2, 2015.
The agency is obligated to decide on whether to block the permit within 30 days of the final hearing, which was in August. But it can extend the time period “upon a show of good cause,” officials wrote in a Friday notice published in the Federal Register.
“To allow full consideration of the extensive administrative record, including public comments, EPA finds there is good cause to extend the time period,” it wrote.
The EPA will make its final decision by Feb. 4, The Hill reported.
The agency proposed in July to put tight restrictions on the Pebble Mine that its developer Northern Dynasty Minerals said would effectively kill the project. Officials said Pebble’s waste materials would get into nearby wetlands and waterways and harm nearby Bristol Bay, which hosts the world’s largest sockeye salmon population.
The mine has been extremely controversial for years because of its potential environmental impact.
But the EPA’s actions have also been controversial, because it is proposing to block the mine before its developer even files an application, a move congressional Republicans have tried to prohibit.