Senators Murkowski and Sullivan Comment on Army Corps Decision on Pebble Mine

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, today released the following statements after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced that the Pebble mine project in southwest Alaska cannot be permitted as currently proposed. The Corps released its decision after finding the project would likely result in significant environmental degradation and have significant adverse effects on the Bristol Bay ecosystem.  

Senator Murkowski released the following statement:

“I strongly support Alaska’s mining industry and the jobs, revenues, and raw materials it provides. Mining’s role in our state economy will only grow in the years ahead, but each project will have to demonstrate that it can be built and operated in accordance with strict regulations and without significant adverse impact on the environment. 

“In this instance, after years of extensive process and scientific study, federal officials have determined the Pebble project, as proposed, does not meet the high bar for large-scale development in Bristol Bay.  

“I understand, respect, and support this decision. I agree that a permit should not be issued. And I thank the administration for its commitment to the protection of this world-class watershed and salmon fishery.”

Senator Sullivan released the following statement:

“Throughout my career, I have been a very strong advocate for responsible resource development in Alaska – it provides good-paying jobs to countless hard-working Alaskan families and is the backbone of our economy. A key part of responsible resource development or any economic project in Alaska is the need to allow the state and federal permitting process to work pursuant to our laws and regulations. This is critical for the rule of law, and predictability in attracting investment for our state. The permitting process also provides transparency for the public to see the data and science to judge whether a project meets the high standards we demand in Alaska.

“For these reasons, I have consistently advocated that the permitting process for the Pebble project go forward in an orderly, science-based manner. That is why, for example, I strongly opposed the Obama administration’s preemptive veto of the project, which short-circuited the permitting process well before Pebble even applied for a federal permit, and was based on very questionable legal authority.

“Throughout this process, I have advocated for the Army Corps and other federal regulatory agencies to conduct a rigorous, fair, science-based review – free of politics – that does not trade one resource for another. I have worked hard to ensure that the voices of all Alaskans – both for and against the Pebble Mine – would be heard, considered, and respected at the highest levels of the federal government. This has happened.

“Finally, I have been clear that given the important aquatic system and world-class fishery resources at stake, Pebble, like all resource development projects in Alaska, has to pass a high bar – a bar that the Trump administration has determined Pebble has not met. I support this conclusion – based on the best available science and a rigorous, fair process – that a federal permit cannot be issued. 

“I will continue to be a very strong advocate for responsible resource development in Alaska – a critical driver of our economic growth and good-paying jobs. Economic and resource development projects that are critical to our state’s future such as ANWR, NPR-A, AK LNG, Ambler Road, the Donlin Gold Project, and others, continue to be supported and approved by federal agencies through the permitting process, meeting Alaska’s high standards for development. Our economic future continues to look bright with these important projects coming on line.”

Since taking office, the Trump administration has provided for a fair but thorough process to evaluate the proposed Pebble mine. Murkowski and Sullivan strongly supported the administration’s decision to reverse EPA’s preemptive veto of the project, which occurred well before Pebble even applied for a federal permit under the Clean Water Act. 

Pebble submitted its permit application to the Corps in December 2017. The agency completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project in July 2020. The finding and decision announced by the Corps today were made under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, as well as its associated guidelines, and based on the record laid out in the FEIS. The FEIS found, among other things, that the proposed mine would permanently impact several thousand acres of wetlands and waters, including about 120 miles of streams in the Koktuli River Watershed.

More information about the Corps’ decision is available here.