Anchorage, AK- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick withdrew the 2014 Proposed Determination issued under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the use of the Pebble Deposit Area in Southwest Alaska as a disposal site associated with mining of the deposit. The announcement is a major breakthrough for the Pebble Partnership, as it proceeds to seek approval for development of the Pebble Project, a proposed gold, copper, molybdenum mine near Newhalen/Iliamna in Southwest Alaska.
“After today’s action EPA will focus on the permit review process for the Pebble Mine project,” said Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick. “The agency has worked closely with the Army Corps to engage with stakeholders and the public on this issue, which has resulted in an expansive public record, including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014.”
By withdrawing the 2014 Proposed Determination, which was issued preemptively and is now outdated, the agency can continue its focus on fulfilling its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act to work with the Army Corps to review the permit.”
Today’s action does not approve Pebble’s permit application or determine a particular outcome in the Corps’ permitting process. Instead, it allows EPA to continue working with the Corps to review the current permit application and engage in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
“Region 10’s decision restores the proper process for 404(c) determinations, eliminating a preemptive veto of a hypothetical mine and focusing EPA’s environmental review on an actual project before the Agency,” EPA General Counsel Matthew Z. Leopold.
EPA Region 10 provided the Corps with detailed comments to its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and permit notice on July 1, 2019, and EPA looks forward to continuing its work with the Corps and the other cooperating agencies on the next steps in the permit review process.