WASHINGTON May 12 U.S. environmental regulators
have cleared the path for a stalled copper and gold mine in
Alaska by agreeing to settle current lawsuits and other issues
over the project, which had drawn environmental concerns over
its potential impact on the world's largest sockeye salmon
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a statement on
Friday, said the settlement does not guarantee the proposed
mining project in southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay region would
ultimately win approval but that its review would now be carried
out "in a fair, transparent, deliberate, and regular way."
The Pebble Limited Partnership mining company had filed a
lawsuit against the EPA under the previous administration of
Democratic president Barack Obama, which had sought to block it.
Backers of the project had been hopeful that Obama's
Republican successor, Donald Trump would allow it to proceed.
Shares of Northern Dynasty Minerals, which owns the
massive Pebble deposit, have surged since Trump won the U.S.
election back in November. Trump took office Jan.
In February 2014, the EPA took the unusual action of
blocking a mine before the project owner applied for a
Opponents of the mine include environmental groups as well
as many native residents who rely on the fish from the Bristol
Bay watershed, which EPA has said supports the world's largest
fishery of sockeye salmon. Many commercial fishermen and sport
fishermen are oppose it.
In the settlement reached on Thursday, Pebble Limited
Partnership can now apply for a Clean Water Act permit from the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA said in its statement
released on Friday.
The EPA and Pebble Limited Partnership also agreed to ask
the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to dismiss
related cases and lift a court-ordered preliminary injunction,
according to the statement.
(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernard Orr)