The Environnmental Protection Agency provided a green light for the Pebble Limited Partnership mining operation to apply for a federal permit and its proposed copper and gold mine in salmon-rich Bristol Bay.
The Environmental Protection Agency has settled an ongoing lawsuit with the Pebble Limited Partnership and says the company can apply for a federal permit for its proposed massive gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Friday’s settlement announcement marks the end of a legal battle ongoing since 2014 between the mine company and the EPA. But salmon fishermen and Native groups in the Bristol Bay region have been fighting the proposed gold, copper and molybdenum mine for more than a decade, and significant funding partners pulled out of the project in 2013. The area’s deposits are some of the largest in the world, but it also rests among tributaries for the world’s largest salmon run.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said early Friday that the agency is committed to allowing the process to move forward, but isn’t prejudging the outcome.
“We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides,” Pruitt said. “The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation. We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”
Ron Thiessen, president of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the sole current owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership, said the mine company is now planning a “smaller project design at Pebble than previously considered, and one that incorporates significant environmental safeguards.”
Despite Pruitt’s and Thiessen’s comments, social media reaction was expectedly toxic: