Alaska Gov. appeals to EPA to halt veto of Pebble Mine
ALASKA GOV. Mike Dunleavy has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the state to decide if the proposed Pebble Project can proceed and to halt the EPA’s efforts to block the mine.
In May, the EPA proposed using a provision of the Clean Water Act to stop the development of the copper-gold mine. The EPA said the open pit mine could threaten the Bristol Bay region’s valuable wild salmon fishery and people who rely on it.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that the agency is expected to decide by Dec. 2 whether it will move ahead with its proposal.
In a letter to Casey Sixkiller, administrator of the EPA region that includes Alaska, Dunleavy said the proposed veto of the project is “deeply concerning” and would undermine Alaska’s legal decision-making authority in resource development.
Dunleavy said the EPA proposal, if finalized, would make preemptive decisions about which resources Alaska can develop and how it can develop them. It chooses fisheries over mining, while disregarding Alaska’s ability to protect its fishery resources, the governor said in the letter.
“Whether, and how, Alaska develops Bristol Bay’s mineral resources or its fishery resources — or both, responsibly — is Alaska’s decision to make, considering the input of all stakeholders and working through the standard permitting process,” Dunleavy said. “EPA would instead choke off further discussion, usurping for itself this important decision affecting so many Alaskans.”
If EPA follows through, the action “would constitute a regulatory taking, for which compensation, in the billions, is due,” the governor said.
The letter echoes previous statements by the governor. In May, after the EPA announced its plans, the governor’s office said that Pebble should have the chance to move through a “fair and complete permitting process” without disruption from EPA. The governor in the statement said the move could “very well become the template for stopping future mines in Alaska and across the country.”
The Pebble deposit is located on state land about 320 km (200 miles) southwest of Anchorage, near headwaters of the salmon fishery. The developer, Pebble Limited Partnership, has said the project will be built safely, while unlocking valuable minerals and creating thousands of jobs in a region with high unemployment.
Under the standard permitting process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under President Donald Trump rejected construction approval for the project in 2020. Pebble Limited is appealing that decision.