President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Washington. Trump said Wednesday he would “listen to both sides” after his eldest son and a campaign adviser urged him to intervene to block a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Washington. Trump said Wednesday he would “listen to both sides” after his eldest son and a campaign adviser urged him to intervene to block a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump says he’ll listen to both sides on proposed Pebble Mine project

Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday expressed hope he would direct the EPA to block the proposed mine.

JUNEAU — President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would “listen to both sides” after his eldest son and a campaign adviser urged him to intervene to block a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday agreed with a tweet from Nick Ayers, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, expressing hope the president would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block the proposed Pebble Mine.

Trump Jr., in response, wrote: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”

The EPA has said the Bristol Bay watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world and contains significant mineral resources. An environmental review released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month — and assailed by critics as deficient — stated that under normal operations, the alternatives it looked at “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”

The corps has yet to make a permitting decision. When it does, it could issue a permit, approve a permit with conditions or issue a denial. The project, should it advance, also would face a state permitting process.

On Wednesday, the president told reporters his son “has some very strong opinions and he is very much of an environmentalist.”

Trump said there was an upcoming briefing, but it wasn’t clear who would be involved or what it would entail. The White House said it was not in a position at this time to comment further.

“I’ve done a lot for Alaska. I love Alaska. It’s a special place,” Trump said.

Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is seeking to build the mine, has hailed the corps’ review as thorough and a positive for the project. The Pebble partnership is owned by Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

Mike Heatwole, a Pebble spokesperson, said the Trump administration “has already spoken” about the project through that review process.

“Recall that this administration is the one that brought the Pebble issue away from the political route pursued by the preemptive veto of the Obama-era EPA and back to the traditional regulatory review process,” he said by email.

The EPA under the Obama administration proposed restricting development in the Bristol Bay region but never finalized the restrictions. The agency retains the option to invoke that so-called veto process again if it decides to do so.

The EPA responded to questions Wednesday with a statement answering none of them.

Daniel Cheyette, a vice president for lands and natural resources for Bristol Bay Native Corp., which opposes the mine, said he thinks people are weighing in now because the project faces a key decision point.

“We encourage President Trump and his administration to listen to the science and the diverse voices who oppose Pebble mine and deny the project a Clean Water Act permit,” he said in a statement.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point house fire leaves 1 dead, 1 in serious condition

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

EPA logo
Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 6 new COVID deaths

The deaths, which included a Kenai woman in her 40s, pushed the total to 840 since the pandemic began.

Ryanna Thurman (right) speaks to a library employee at the Soldotna Public Library on Thursday, March 25 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna library seeks OK for grant fund purchases

The funds are made available under the federal American Rescue Plan Act

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Kenai man killed in vehicle rollover

The man was travelling northbound on the Sterling Highway on Tuesday.

Cheryl Morse and Tom Kleeman prepare Thanksgiving lunch at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Food bank opens doors for Thanksgiving lunch

“We don’t know what to expect, so we’re trying to still be cautious on our limited seating.”

Carter Kyle (left), Lincoln Kyle (center) and Brandon Kyle (right) hand off Thanksgiving meals at a drive through event hosted by the Salvation Army on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Thanksgiving on the go

Salvation Army hands out meals in drive-thru event

Bench creator, Brad Hughes, pours the molding material over the clay while Rob Wiard and Matt brush the liquid rubber over each character on the bench to ensure it is covered evenly. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Molds for the Loved Lost Bench are underway

Construction for the memorial bench continues as the rubber molds to shape the concrete are made.

Most Read