Alaska votes to restrict large mine

Alaska voters approved a ballot measure aimed at adding a hurdle to the potential development of a major copper and gold mine.

The measure requires the state’s legislature to approve any proposed mining project in the Bristol Bay watershed.

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It targets the Pebble Mine, a planned copper and gold mine that would be the largest of its kind in the world.

Environmentalists, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and some Alaska native tribes want to stop the mine due to its potential impact on wildlife in Bristol Bay and the watershed, including a massive salmon population.

Sixty-five percent of voters approved of the proposed restriction, compared with 35 percent opposing, Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The measure could be moot, since the EPA has proposed restrictions on the mine that would effectively block its development. Northern Dynasty Minerals, Pebble’s developer, is working on legislative and judicial fronts to challenge the EPA’s decision.

In addition, independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker opposes the mine. The race had not been called as of Wednesday, but Walker leads current Gov. Sean Parnell (R) in votes.