Trump pledges ‘no politics’ in Pebble Mine review
President Trump is pledging to keep politics out of decisionmaking involving the controversial Pebble Mine that has been proposed at the site of a prominent salmon fishery.
“Don’t worry, wonderful & beautiful Alaska, there will be NO POLITICS in the Pebble Mine Review Process. I will do what is right for Alaska and our great Country!!!” he tweeted late Wednesday.
The language of his tweet was similar to that used in advertising by Pebble Limited Partnership, the company behind the proposed mine, in favor of the project.
“President Trump, continue to stand tall and don’t let politics enter the Pebble Mine review process,” said an ad from the company.
The proposed gold and copper mine has become a lightning rod among conservatives in recent weeks after prominent figures such as Donald Trump Jr. and Tucker Carlson spoke out against it.
Following this, Trump said he would look at “both sides” of the issue. Weeks later, the federal government notified Pebble that it would have to take extra steps to mitigate “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources.”
The notification, from the Army Corps of Engineers, came after the agency had already issued an environmental impacts assessment saying that the proposed project would not impact salmon harvests in the area, reversing an Obama-era determination that it would.
Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Hill at the time that he believed it was unusual for the government to require new mitigation measures this late in the process, saying that “these sorts of issues typically have been resolved by this stage.”
Environmentalists have argued that the initial assessment was flawed and part of an attempt to rush the mine through.
Asked about the president’s latest tweet, Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole said in an email: “We thank President Trump for keeping his word. All Pebble has asked for is a fair shake and we look forward to getting our Record of Decision this Fall.”
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.
Though it said it would not impact salmon harvests, the initial Army Corps 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.