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House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction

House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction
© Thinkstock/Istock/Sekarb

The House passed a broad spending package on Friday for fiscal 2021 with amendments that include a measure blocking the construction of the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska.

The overall spending package for the 2021 fiscal year passed Friday would cost $1.3 trillion. It encompasses defense; labor, health and human services, and education; commerce, justice and science; energy and water; financial services and general government; and transportation and housing and urban development.

An amendment, offered by Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanBickering Democrats return with divisions Lobbying world OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes MORE (D-Calif.) would prohibit using funds provided by the legislation to issue approval for the project. 

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The passage of the bill comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s completion of an environmental impacts assessment of the Pebble Mine, bringing it one step closer to construction

The government assessment determined that the controversial project “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay,” something environmentalists have raised concerns about. 

Critics of the assessment said that it underestimated the potential for harm to water and fish. 

Support for the mine is largely divided along party lines, as it is supported by many Republicans.

On the other side of the aisle, even moderate Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Voters split on eliminating the filibuster: poll OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (W.Va.) has expressed opposition to the project. He said in a statement Friday that jeopardizing Bristol Bay would be "gravely irresponsible" and that the administration's assessment "did not come anywhere close to assuring me that this world-class, pristine treasure would be protected."

 

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A number of other environmental amendments were also recently added on to the approximately $49.6 billion in energy and water spending. 

For example, amendments from Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) and Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) would prohibit the government from rejecting grant applications because they use the phrases “global warming,” “climate change” or “sea level rise.”

Overall, the water and energy section would provide $41 billion for the Energy Department's budget, an increase of about $2.3 billion over last year, and provide $7.63 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The legislation faces negotiations with the Republican-led Senate during which some of the provisions could be lost. 
The White House has also threatened to veto the broad spending package, outlining nearly 30 pages worth of provisions to which it objects. 

Updated 5:27 p.m.