- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced a legal settlement that could allow a highly controversial Alaska mine project to move forward.

The agency’s agreement with Pebble Limited Partnership likely means the end of a legal case stretching back to 2014, when the Obama administration issued preliminary findings claiming that the gold and copper mine, if opened, could do serious damage to Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska.

That determination came even before Pebble submitted all of its federal applications, leading the company to sue the EPA. Friday’s settlement should put an end to that case and, along with it, the adversarial relationship between the EPA and Pebble.

“We are committed to due process and the rule of law, and regulations that are ‘regular,’”EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement. “We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides. The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation. We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”

The settlement does not mean the Pebble mine is approved. The Army Corps of Engineers still must conduct a detailed environmental impact study. Following that, the EPA will undertake its own review to ensure the proposed project complies with the federal Clan Water Act.

The EPA said Pebble has 30 months to apply for all necessary permits.

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