May 25 (Reuters) - The Biden administration made a revised
proposal on Wednesday to ban the disposal of mining waste in
Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed, dealing a potential death blow
to the contentious Pebble Mine project that has been pursued for
over a decade.
The project, one of the world's largest copper and gold
deposits, has been through a roller coaster of regulations for
the past 15 years as Bristol Bay's salmon has supported
important wildlife and a multibillion-dollar industry.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a
statement it is seeking public comments on the revised proposal
at hearings in June as well as by written submissions through
July 5. (https://bit.ly/3lG2tQs)
Pebble Limited Partnership top boss John Shively called the
move a giant step backwards for the Biden Administration's
climate change goals.
"The Pebble Project remains an important domestic source for
the minerals necessary for the Biden Administration to reach its
energy goals," said Shively, chief executive of Pebble, which is
owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
"If it blocks Pebble it will have to seek minerals to meet
its goals from foreign sources which simply do not have the same
environmental standards that we do."
Under former U.S. President Barack Obama, the EPA in 2014
proposed limits on large-scale mining in the watershed, citing
environmental concerns. But under former President Donald Trump,
the EPA had dismantled scores of environmental rules, including
the initial proposal from the Obama administration.
The project, however, has faced other regulatory hurdles,
after the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Trump
administration, denied a key permit for the mine in November
2020 following opposition by Alaska's Republican senators
seeking to protect the $2.2 billion salmon industry that employs
In September last year, the Biden administration had
re-launched the process to permanently protect the watershed.
(Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna