EPA decision restarts review of Pebble Mine

June 28, 2019

A 2014 decision that halted the development of the Pebble Mine in Alaska will be reconsidered, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.

Reuters reported that the decision by the EPA will restart a review that had been put on hold since early 2018, and comes as the Trump administration works to reduce regulation over extractive industries and boost domestic development of minerals, especially those used in electric vehicles.

EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold signed a memo directing staff to reconsider a decision five years ago under President Barack Obama that restricted the mine’s disposal plans under the auspices of the Clean Water Act.

“Today’s step is a move toward good government decision making, which we owe under the law to both the public and project proponents,” Leopold said in a statement.

The review was paused in January 2018 for further environmental studies, the EPA said at the time.

The Pebble Mine would, if brought online, produce 70 million tons of gold, molybdenum and copper ore a year and create a pit 1,970 feet (600 meters) deep. A new road, pipeline and power plant would be built, according to the mine plan.

The site is near Lake Iliamna in southwestern Alaska between the headwaters of two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers had last February released a draft environmental impact statement on the project, which did not recommend any action pending a final environmental impact statement next year. A decision on a construction permit is expected in mid-2020.

 

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