EPA sets timeline to assess next steps related to Pebble Mine

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JUNEAU, Alaska – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it was extending until May a deadline for deciding how or whether to proceed with proposed restrictions on mining in the region. Bristol Bay in Alaska, known for its salmon runs.

Acting Regional Administrator Michelle L. Pirzadeh, in a written notice, said an extension until May would allow time “to review the information available to determine the appropriate next steps, which may include review.” restrictions proposed but never finalized under the Obama administration. .

The EPA, in a 2017 settlement with the developer of the proposed pebble mine, has agreed to initiate a process to suggest removing the proposed restrictions. The developer, Pebble Limited Partnership, presented the proposed restrictions as an attempt to preemptively veto the copper and gold mine and said it wanted the project to be considered through the process of ‘authorisation.

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The company subsequently applied for a permit with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In 2019, under the Trump administration, the EPA withdrew the proposed restrictions, removing what it called an “obsolete pre-emptive Pebble Mine veto project.”

That action was challenged in court, and the EPA earlier this year asked a judge to overturn the withdrawal decision and send the case back to the agency for further consideration. The request was accepted.

The EPA said the decision reinstated proposed restrictions in 2014 and triggered regulatory deadlines to either remove the proposed restrictions or prepare a so-called recommended determination that would seek to ban or restrict activities in an area. The EPA said it could extend the deadline through a notice in the Federal Register and chose to do so. The new deadline is May 31st.

Last year, the body rejected a key permit for the project following an environmental review of the body months earlier that the Pebble partnership had deemed favorable to the project. The Pebble Partnership appeals the rejection.

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The Pebble Partnership cited the body’s environmental review on Wednesday and said the EPA “did not have this large volume of detailed technical information” when it took action previously. The company also said the nation would need minerals that the Pebble Project could provide.

Nelli Williams, director of Trout Unlimited for Alaska, said the schedule presented on Wednesday shows a “strong commitment” from the EPA “to continue and complete the work started in 2014” to provide protections to the region. Bristol Bay.

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