Industry groups and Republican lawmakers fear the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to set a new precedent in Alaska that could make it harder for companies to obtain mining permits near sensitive habitats.
The EPA has signaled it might reject a proposed copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, over concerns that the project could disturb the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.
The companies behind the proposed Pebble mine note that the EPA has never before blocked a mining project after a preliminary watershed assessment, and warn that doing so now would tilt the scales in favor of environmental groups that want to block energy production.
Ross Eisenberg, vice president for energy and resources with the National Association of Manufacturers, said a decision to stop the Pebble mine based on the preliminary test would give environmental groups an opening to stop other projects.
“The real danger that we’ve all got is, if they can figure out how to get this done with Pebble, they can get this done in other areas,” he said. “There are lots of groups that don’t like mining. This is one way to get the mining to stop.”