In a press conference held today, President Trump indicated he would be briefed within 48 hours about the Pebble mine. As the Corps of Engineers prepares its final decision about whether to issue a Clean Water Act permit, opponents of the mine are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to intercede to block the project and the impacts it would have in Bristol Bay.
Although the EPA withdrew proposed protections for Bristol Bay last year, it still has authority through the 404(c) process to veto the project during or after federal permitting.
Donald Trump Jr. is one of the voices now speaking up against the mine. He surprised Pebble opponents and proponents yesterday when he agreed with a tweet from Nick Ayers, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Pence.
When President Trump was asked about his son’s comment during the press conference, he said, “I will look at both sides of it. I had heard about it.”
He could be referencing previous conversations with Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, who had received talking points from Pebble executives to share with the President. Last year CNN reported that EPA dropped its attempts to protect the Bristol Bay fisheries from development after the President met with Dunleavy.
Senator Dan Sullivan may have also raised the Pebble mine with President Trump. As reported by Alaska Public’s Liz Ruskin, he indicated yesterday that he still has concerns with the environmental review of the project. “I am also continuing to make sure that Alaska’s voices are being heard on this project at the highest levels of government – including the White House,” he wrote.
“I’ve done a lot for Alaska,” said Trump during the press conference, noting his administration’s actions related to opening up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, as well as efforts to build the “Cove Road,” likely a reference to the proposed road from King Cove to Cold Bay.
“I love Alaska,” Trump said. “It’s a special place.”