EPA Removes Pebble Mine 'Premeptive Veto'
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Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescinded its 2014 proposed determination ruling that prevented consideration of Northern Dynasty's Pebble project.
The ruling does not permit the mine to proceed but rather restarts environmental review, said EPA General Counsel Matthew Z. Leopold.
"[The] decision restores the proper process for 404(c) determinations, eliminating a preemptive veto of a hypothetical mine and focusing EPA's environmental review on an actual project before the Agency," said Leopold in a news release.
The 2014 Proposed Determination was issued under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.
Northern Dynasty's Pebble Project is located in southwest Alaska. On the company's website it says the current resource estimate includes 6.5 billion tonnes in the measured and indicated categories containing 57 billion lb copper and 71 million oz gold. The company expects the environmental impact statement to wrap up by 2020.
The 2014 proposed determination, which the EPA said was exceptional and specific to the proposed mine, restricted the use of dredged or fill material from mining within the Bristol Bay watershed because of its "...high ecological and economic value...and the assessed unacceptable environmental effects that would result from such mining."
"Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed...is an area of unparalleled ecological value, boasting salmon diversity and productivity unrivaled anywhere in North America. The Bristol Bay watershed provides intact, connected habitats—from headwaters to ocean—that support abundant, genetically diverse wild Pacific salmon populations," wrote the EPA when it made the proposed determination.
In rescinding the ruling, EPA administrator Chris Hladick said the agency will now focus on permit review.
"After today’s action EPA will focus on the permit review process for the Pebble Mine project" said Hladick. "The agency has worked closely with the Army Corps to engage with stakeholders and the public on this issue, which has resulted in an expansive public record, including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014."