The Trump administration has blocked a proposal that could have put thousands out of work in Alaska.
According to the Good News Network, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers produced a big win for commercial fisheries in the state on Nov. 25 when it blocked approval for the Pebble Mine project.
Seated beside the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Pebble Mine is a massive mineral deposit full of copper and gold reserves and has been eyed for blasting by a Canadian-British mining company for nearly two decades, according to The New York Times.
John Shively, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s developers, long has claimed the proposed project would create huge “economic opportunities for people living in the area,” according to The Associated Press, but local Alaskans aren’t so sure.
Bristol Bay is home to the largest salmon run and sockeye salmon fishery in the world. The fishing industry in Alaska, which depends on these waters, employs 75 percent of local workers, takes in over $200 million annually and provides 40 percent of the nation’s total salmon catch, the Good News Network reported.
The thousands of people who could have been put out of work in Alaska comprise year-round and seasonal workers, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
If the Pebble Mine project had been approved to move forward, the mine would have become the largest in North America, but it also would have pumped out enough waste to fill an NFL stadium nearly 3,900 times, according to the AP.
The Corps of Engineers revealed in its rejection statement that the mining company’s plans to dispose of the waste did “not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines” and that “the proposed project is contrary to the public interest,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.
In addition to protecting the local fishing industry, environmentalists suggested blockage of the proposal would go a long way toward keeping Alaskan waters clean.
“The Corps’ denial of the permit for the Pebble Mine is a victory for common sense,” Chris Wood, president of Trout Unlimited, said per the Good News Network.
“The opposition to this project from all corners of the political spectrum runs strong and deep. The process has played out, and the science is clear. There is no way this ill-conceived project can coexist with Bristol Bay salmon.”
Several prominent Republicans have voiced agreement with Wood, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
“As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area, I agree 100 percent,” Trump Jr. said. “The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska shared similar sentiments in a statement released last month.
My statement after the Army Corps formally denied the Pebble project’s permit application, ending its consideration and affirming that this is the wrong mine in the wrong place. pic.twitter.com/CuOjVjyNmx
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) November 25, 2020
“[The decision] will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource — Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery,” Murkowski wrote. “I hope it also marks the start of a more collaborative effort within the state to develop a sustainable vision for the region.”
The mining company remains free to submit subsequent project proposals in an effort to modify its waste-disposal plan and reverse the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision.
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