Trump pledges to look at ‘both sides’ on Pebble Mine
President Trump on Wednesday pledged to hear out both supporters and opponents of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska after his son tweeted opposition to it following the completion of an administration environmental impact assessment.
“I would certainly listen to both sides. My son has some very strong opinions and my son is very much of an environmentalist,” Trump told reporters at a press briefing.
“I will look at both sides of it. I had heard about it. I understand they’ll be doing a briefing sometime over the next 48 hours,” he added.
The comments follow a tweet by Donald Trump Jr., in which he expressed opposition to the project, which is controversial due to its proximity to a prominent salmon fishery.
“The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with. #PebbleMine,” the president’s son wrote Tuesday.
He agreed with a similar sentiment from Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Pence.
“Like millions of conservationists and sportsmen, I am hoping @realDonaldTrump will direct @EPA to block the Pebble mine in Bristol Bay,” Ayers tweeted. “A Canadian company will unnecessarily mine the USA’s greatest fishery at a severe cost. This should be stopped and I believe @POTUS will do so!”
The administration late last month completed an assessment of the proposed gold and copper mine’s potential environmental impacts that moved the project one step closer to construction.
The assessment by the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the mine wouldn’t impact salmon harvests in the area, reversing an Obama-era determination that it would.
“There would be no measurable change in the number of returning salmon,” the new assessment said.
It also said the 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.”
After the tweet from the president’s son earlier this week, a spokesperson for the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is behind the mine, told The Hill in an email that the company does “not believe that the President will interfere with this statutory process.”
The Bristol Bay area where the mine would be located is the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region, and opponents of the mine fear its discharges could contaminate local waters.
The assessment did say that wetlands and streams will see impacts from the mine. It’s expected to permanently affect between 2,226 and 2,261 acres of wetlands and other waters, including between 104.1 and 105.8 miles of streams.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed under the Obama administration to preemptively veto a permit for the mine. The Trump administration reversed this action last year.