EPA withdraws proposed Bristol Bay area mining restrictions

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn proposed Obama-era restrictions on mining activity in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, angering opponents of the Pebble Mine project.

EPA says the proposed restrictions were based on hypothetical scenarios and are outdated now that the Pebble Limited Partnership has submitted project plans.

The agency says other processes are better suited for working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the corps seeks to finalize an environmental review of the project.

A regional EPA official earlier this month said the corps’ draft review likely underestimates impacts the project could have on fish and other resources. Bristol Bay is home to a major salmon fishery.

Critics of the mine see the decision as a step backward. The Pebble partnership’s CEO hailed EPA’s action.