• Seattle fisheries fear Pebble Mine settlement could lead to controversial project

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has settled a lawsuit with the company that wants to build a copper and gold mine in Alaska, potentially opening the door to developing the controversial project.

    Pebble Mine is fiercely opposed by environmentalists and many members of the Bristol Bay fishing fleet, who fear it could devastate a critical salmon fishery.

    Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, has been fighting Pebble Mine for years and urged the EPA under President Obama to block the project, which it did in 2014.

    Now that the project is potentially revived, Cantwell said at a news conference at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal that "President Trump's administration is making an appalling mistake, siding with these Canadian miners over American fishing jobs."

    Cantwell says the mine would harm water quality in a bay that produces 40 million salmon and supports 22,000 fishing jobs based in the Pacific Northwest. Opponents are most concerned about mining waste contaminating the bay in a disaster.

    The legal settlement announced Friday between the EPA and Northern Dynasty Minerals of Vancouver, BC allows the mining company to go ahead with a permit application.       

    Mike Heatwole of Pebble Partnership told KIRO 7 that developers take environmental concerns seriously and plan to propose a smaller mine "with additional environmental safeguards."

    Heatwole said Northern Dynasty Minerals needs a financial partner to help foot the bill for seeking permits, which could cost tens of millions of dollars, and that the company hopes to file a permit application by the end of the year.

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