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The Newhalen River empties into Lake iliamna at the village of Newhalen, located about 20 miles from the prioposed Pebble Mine site. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska on Wednesday, saying the "proposed project is contrary to the public interest," per the New York Times.

Why it matters: The decision is a win for Indigenous, environmental and fishing groups who argued the proposed gold and copper mine would be detrimental to the wildlife in region, which is home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.

  • The project was also opposed by President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., Fox News' Tucker Carlson and Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

What they're saying: The Army Corps said it had “determined that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest," per NYT.

  • The agency added that the decision “reflects a regulatory process that is fair, flexible and balanced.”

The other side: Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier said the company was "obviously dismayed" by the decision, which he called "politically driven."

  • "One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area," Collier said in a statement Wednesday.
  • "This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy — especially at a time when Alaska is seeing record job losses from the impacts associated with Covid."
  • He noted that in issuing its final environmental review in July, the Army Corps said the project would not lead to "long-term changes in the health of the commercial fisheries" in the region.
    • In August, the agency delayed its decision on the project until the company submitted a plan to mitigate "unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources," including in nearby wetlands and streams. That plan was submitted last week, per NYT.
  • "Since the beginning of the federal review, our team has worked closely with the USACE staff to understand their requirements for responsibly developing the project including changing the transportation corridor and re-vamping the approach to wetlands mitigation. All of these efforts led to a comprehensive, positive [environmental impact statement] for the project that clearly stated it could be developed responsibly," Collier said.
  • "It is very disconcerting to see political influence in this process at the eleventh hour."

Worth noting: Prior to the election, President-elect Joe Biden vowed to block the project if he won.

What's next: Pebble Mine said it plans to appeal the Army Corps' decision.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

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