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Pebble Mine debates resume as the company behind the project appeals federal permit denial

Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 9:38 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When the Pebble Partnership requested an appeal against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to deny a 404 permit needed to move forward with a proposed open-pit gold mine in the Bristol Bay Region, it started a new cycle of events that will likely bring the the controversial mining project back into the forefront, as one of the biggest issues that Alaskans are divided on.

USACE has 30 days to decide whether the company’s request is complete. Afterwards, the process for determining the merits of the appeal and issuing a final decision normally takes 90 days.

The Pebble Partnership’s request did not surprise those who have followed the recent developments pertaining to the project. The company made it clear last fall that its intent was to appeal.

Nelli Williams, the Alaska program director for Trout Unlimited, says she fully expected the appeal to be made sooner or later, but her belief is that the USACE’s record of decision will stand.

“If you look at the best interests of Alaskans, I think all of that supports permit denial,” Williams said. “Of course, Pebble has the right to appeal it, but I really don’t think their chances are that great.”

On Friday, Pebble Partnership spokesperson Mike Heatwole told Alaska’s News Source that the company remains optimistic that the federal permit remains within its grasp.

“As we looked deeper into that record, it became very apparent that many of the conclusions they had established were not supported by the record that they had established,” he said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has also indicated that the State of Alaska will seeks it’s own appeal of the decision. The governor cited concerns over the precedent that the USACE’s decision would set in a state that is historically known for its resource development.

In August, then-candidate Joe Biden said that he intended to stop the mine from being developed, if elected as President of the United States of America.

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