AK - Army Corps Delays Pebble Mine Over 'Adverse Impacts' and 'Degradation'
The federal government is requiring the company behind the Pebble Mine to take extra steps to mitigate “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources,” delaying its final decision on the project.
A letter, dated last week but published online on Monday, follows political pressure from conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who have rallied against the mine, which would be located at a prominent sockeye salmon fishery in Alaska.
Prior to the new letter, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued an environmental impact statement that found that the proposed project would not impact salmon harvests in the area, reversing an Obama-era determination that it would. The most recent assessment also said the project would impact wetlands and streams.
Now, the Army Corps is giving Pebble Limited Partnership, the company behind the mine, 90 days to submit a plan to mitigate impacts such as discharges into wetlands, waters and streams.
The Army Corps said it will “review the compensatory mitigation plan upon submittal to determine if the amount and type of compensatory mitigation offered is sufficient to offset the identified unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources and overcome significant degradation at the mine site.”
The letter said that discharges from the mine site would directly or indirectly affect 2,825 acres of wetlands, 132.5 acres of open waters and 129.5 miles of streams and that discharges from its transportation corridor would impact 460 acres of wetlands, 231.7 acres of open waters and 55.5 miles of streams.
Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier on Monday downplayed the significance of the new requirements from the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Based on our understanding of the substance of the letter, our discussions with the state, our substantial work in the field and our discussions with the USACE we believe our final Comprehensive Management Plan submission will be submitted within weeks and will satisfy all of the requirements of the letter,” Collier said in a statement.
“Anyone suggesting a different opinion—i.e. that Pebble will not be able to comply with the letter or that such compliance will significantly delay issuing a [decision]—must be ignorant of the EXTENSIVE preparation we have undertaken in order to meet the requirements of the letter,” he added, saying the company “will share more details of our initial plan as they become more defined.”