The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first step toward reversing its proposed restrictions on large-scale mining near the headwaters of a major salmon fishery in southwest Alaska.
As part of a legal settlement reached in May with the Pebble Limited Partnership, the EPA pledged to initiate a process for withdrawing the proposed restrictions.
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EPA announced Tuesday that it would hold a 90-day comment period on the intended withdrawal.
The agency also said it will consult with tribal governments in the Bristol Bay region, where the Pebble partnership has proposed developing a copper and gold mine.
EPA's proposal was criticized by conservationists and the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, who have sought protections for the region.
Pebble CEO Tom Collier welcomed EPA's action.