EPA Won’t Slow Down a Controversial Alaska Mine

by | May 13, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency informed the Army Corps of Engineers via letter that despite serious concerns about the Pebble Mine’s environmental impacts, the agency will not formally object to the controversial project. If EPA had opted to formally “elevate” its concerns to higher levels of the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as EPA itself, it would have slowed down the final approval process. In mid-2019, the EPA overturned an Obama-era ban on the proposed huge open-pit copper and gold mine, on the significant chances it would degrade thousands of square acres of wilderness, and damage the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. “If the Corps grants the permit, the EPA has the authority to veto it, but mine opponents say the new letter makes that look less likely,” reported Alaska Public Media. “Pebble Limited Partnership thinks so, too.” Environmentalists and locals, including more than a dozen Alaska Native tribes, have long fought to stop the project. Status: EPA released its required letter to the corps on May 28, 2020.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.