CNN: EPA reversal on Pebble Mine came after Trump met with Dunleavy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed its position on the Pebble Mine project after Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy met with President Donald Trump, according to a CNN report.
Although the EPA’s decision not to oppose the mining project was made public on 30 July, staff scientists at the agency learned of the decision a month before, soon after the meeting. Dunleavy met with Trump while Air Force One was in Alaska on 26 June on the way to the G20 summit in Japan.
The controversial copper and gold mining project, planned near Bristol Bay, has long been opposed by environmentalists, Native American tribes, those in the fishing industry, and others. Under President Barack Obama, the EPA found that Pebble Mine would result in “complete loss of” fish habitat in the bay.
According to CNN, EPA sources said the agency’s reversal was a “total shock.”
The project was halted in 2014 due to an EPA study that found the mine would result in loss of fish habitat due to “elimination, dewatering and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in Bristol Bay. The agency used a rarely invoked section of the Clean Water Act to block the mine from moving forward, which Dunleavy, a vocal proponent of Pebble Mine, disagreed with vehemently at the time.
“This project, like all projects, should be scrutinized and examined under fair and rigorous permitting process prescribed by law. That was not the case under the EPA’s unprecedented preemptive veto,” the governor said in a statement.
Neither the White House nor the EPA would comment on whether the EPA had been directed by the Trump administration to change course on Pebble Mine.
Native American tribes near Bristol Bay have said that the mining project would have severe consequences.
“If that mine gets put in, it would… completely devastate our region. It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally,” Second Chief of the Curyung Tribal Council Gayla Hoseth said.
Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor of the State of Alaska