Pebble Mine still lives

It has lost most of its major backers and suffered a significant defeat at the ballot box, but the Pebble Partnership’s dream of a titanic mine in the Bristol Bay watershed is not dead.

On Dec. 23, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced it has temporarily approved an extension of the Pebble Partnership’s existing land-use permits.

The extension allows the Partnership to keep its state “hardrock exploration and reclamation” permits through March 31. The announcement was made by the state as DNR considers whether to issue a longer extension. DNR received a flood of comments on that long-term extension and the short-term decision “allows DNR staff the necessary time to comprehensively consider the breadth and scope of the complex issues raised through the public process.”

The election of Donald Trump has given Pebble supporters new hope that the mine will be built despite opposition from Alaskans.

In a story published Sunday by the Alaska Dispatch News, Pebble Partnership vice president Mike Heatwole said the company is hopeful.

Pebble Partnership is in mediation with the Environmental Protection Agency, which blocked the project after saying it could not be built without harming the Bristol Bay watershed and the salmon industry.

That decision has been opposed in court, and the two sides are fighting several issues.

In 2014, 65.94 percent of Alaskans voted to approve a ballot measure that gives the Alaska Legislature permission to block a mining project in the Bristol Bay area if lawmakers decide the project would harm fish.

The measure was targeted at Pebble Mine.

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