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EPA Considers Blocking Massive Gold Mine Planned for Alaska

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by InTheLight, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Dec 17, 2010
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    The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it will examine whether to block a massive gold and copper mine proposed in Alaska -- a major win for environmentalists, native tribes and commercial fishing companies that have been seeking to kill the project for more than three years.

    “Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.

    While the announcement does not mean the Obama administration has made a final decision to prohibit Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a Canadian-based firm, from starting construction on the Pebble Mine project, it will delay it for months and make it much harder for the controversial project to move ahead at all.

    During the course of the EPA review the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a federal discharge permit. which Northern Dynasty would need in order to dump waste into the surrounding Bristol Bay watershed.

    EPA is invoking its authority under the Clean Water Act to determine whether it should permanently bar the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing the discharge permit for the mine.

    The mine, which has also attracted investment from global mining giant Rio Tinto PLC, has become a major issue for the conservation community, which considers it one of the most important environmental decisions President Obama can make in his second term.

    Bristol Bay is home to a critical fishery that supports nearly half the world’s sockeye salmon, and EPA issued a scientific assessment last month that concluded up to 94 miles “of salmon-supporting streams and 1,300 to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes” would be eliminated by the footprint of a mining pit, depending on its size. The fishery not only supports a vibrant commercial fishery, but several native Alaskan tribes that have lived there for centuries.

    EPA has invoked its 404(c) authority under the Clean Water Act only 13 times in its history.