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An employee of Northen Dynasty Mines Inc. mans a drilling rig in the Pebble Mine East site near the village of Iliamna, Alaska. Photo: Luis Sinco / Getty Images

The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday issued a final report concluding that a proposed Alaskan gold and copper mine would not harm the long-term health of a fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska, reversing Obama-era regulations and policies.

Why it matters: Bristol Bay is home to one of the most important salmon fisheries around the globe. According to the 2014 assessment, it produces nearly half of the world's wild sockeye salmon catch annually and its resources support around 14,000 jobs.

Context: In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources" in some areas of the bay, effectively stopping the project.

What they're saying: Tom Collier, CEO of the project's developer Pebble Limited Partnership, claimed in a statement Friday that the report shows how the mine can be built without harming the environment.

  • “The final EIS is the first time that a federal agency has engaged in a rigorous review of the specific plan that we intend to use to build this project," Collier said, according to KDLG, a public radio station in Dillingham, Alaska. "After doing that, in the draft and preliminary final, they concluded that the project won’t damage the fishery.”
  • Andy Wink, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, told CNN that similar mines have never coexisted with wild salmon runs.
    • "If this administration values America's food and job security then our federal agencies should be taking an extra hard look at this project and doing everything they can to protect Bristol Bay and its 14,500 fishing and seafood jobs," Wink said.
  • Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she is reviewing the environmental impact assessment, but noted that "adverse impacts to Alaska's world-class salmon fishery and to the ecosystem of Bristol Bay are unacceptable."

The big picture: The Army Corps ruling is a continuation of the Trump administration's reversal of environmental policy approved by the Obama administration.

What's next: The Army Corps now has 30 days to issue a final word on whether the mine will get the federal permit needed to begin construction, according to KDLG.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 19, 2020 - Economy & Business

More seafood on the menu by 2050

Juvenile salmon in a hatchery in Russia. Photo: Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images

New research charts out how improvements in aquaculture and sustainable fishing could significantly increase food production from the sea by midcentury.

Why it matters: Global demand for food and particularly protein is projected to rise in step with human population growth. With little new land available to be sustainably opened for farming, our best bet may be the oceans — provided we can better manage that resource.

19 mins ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary published Sunday.

Why it matters: Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier was used as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.