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The Trump administration is delaying a decision on whether to approve a controversial mine in a sensitive Alaskan ecosystem that faces opposition from President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and other prominent conservatives.
Why it matters, via Axios' Amy Harder: The situation could allow the president to avoid making a definitive statement before Election Day, temporarily appeasing both sides. It's still bad news for the mine developers given Joe Biden has vowed to block the project should he win.
- In an Aug. 20 letter, released on Monday and first reported by The Hill, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will not make a decision on a permit for the project until Pebble Limited Partnership, the company behind Pebble Mine, submits a plan to mitigate "unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources," including in nearby wetlands and streams.
- Pebble Limited Partnership will have 90 days to submit its mitigation plan, meaning a decision on the project's permit may not be made until after November's election.
The big picture: The large gold and copper mine, if approved, would be located at a prominent sockeye salmon fishery in the Bristol Bay area.
- The project, which was blocked by the Obama administration, has been opposed by environmentalists and fishing industry groups.
- Conservatives, including Trump Jr. and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have also expressed opposition.
- In issuing its final environmental review report last month, the Army Corps said it would make a decision on whether to issue a permit for the project within 30 days. The report found that the project would not lead to "long-term changes in the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay."
The other side: In a statement Monday, Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier expressed confidence that the project will move forward.
- "We believe our final Comprehensive Management Plan submission will be submitted within weeks and will satisfy all of the requirements of the letter,” Collier said.
- "Anyone suggesting a different opinion—i.e. that Pebble will not be able to comply with the letter or that such compliance will significantly delay issuing a [decision]—must be ignorant of the EXTENSIVE preparation we have undertaken in order to meet the requirements of the letter.”
- "This is the next step in what has been a comprehensive, exhaustive two-and-a-half-year review of the project. Nothing in the letter is a surprise to us or them,” he added, denying reports that pressure from prominent conservative voices played a role in the Army Corps letter.