A controversial plan to build a mine on top of a copper and gold deposit outside of Bristol Bay, Alaska was rejected outright by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, despite refusing to allow the company, Pebble Partnership, to submit an initial environmental impact statement.
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But in May, under the Trump administration, new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt met with the CEO of the company, Tom Collier, to strike a deal: It would begin to roll back restrictions on large-scale mining in Alaska, which is located near a major salmon fishery.
Environmentalists, and a CNN report released in mid-October, criticized the EPA for allowing that de-regulation to begin, implying that it could destroy Bristol Bay -- a criticism that Collier said is markedly untrue.
“The misinformation that’s been put out there on this project is outrageous, and it’s been done for a specific intent,” Collier told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.” “It’s how the environmental community raises their funds. They raise money around my project, and then they spend it on all kinds of things.”
The Pebble Partnership spent years fighting the Obama administration for its refusal to allow a private company to file an application for a permit to build a project under an obscure section of the Clean Water Act. Collier said the company spent nearly $750 million preparing to get the proper permits -- spending that he said was without merit until Trump’s election in November.
Now, what happens next with the mine, which he said is actually located nearly 100 miles away from Bristol Bay, could depend: The company plans to file for its permit application in December for a project much smaller than the environmental community originally anticipated.
Collier has maintained that the mine could bring in additional jobs, investment and economic activity to Alaska, according to the company’s website.
“Our position still remains,” he said. “All we want to do is file our permit. And if we can show that we can build this mine without damaging that fishery, we get a permit and then we’ll build.”