The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the Pebble Mine on Wednesday, likely dealing a lethal blow to the controversial project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
The decision on the proposed gold and copper mine is a victory for environmentalists, Native American groups, and the state’s commercial fishing industry, all of which opposed the project.
In a statement, the Corps said it “determined that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest.”
Opponents had argued the open-pit mine would leach sediment into nearby waters, harming the state’s salmon population while scarring pristine wilderness.
“Sometimes a project is so bad, so indefensible, that the politics fall to the wayside and we get the right decision. That is what happened today,” Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, which promotes Alaska’s salmon industry, said in a statement.
The decision to deny the permit is a departure from some previous findings. The Corps concluded in a July assessment that the proposed project would not affect salmon harvests in the area. That finding was a reversal from an Obama-era determination that it would.