The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers officially blocked a decades-long struggle to blast open the controversial Pebble Mine Wednesday, located near the world’s largest natural salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
The Army Corp said in a statement it had determined the company’s plans on how to dispose of the material waste did "not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest."
"This action is based on all available facts and complies with existing laws and regulations," the Army Corps added. "It reflects a regulatory process that is fair, flexible and balanced."
The mine, spearheaded by Pebble Limited Partnership, a U.S. offshoot of Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals, was to be a massive gold and copper excavation project, as deep as the Grand Canyon and would create waste that would fill 3,900 NFL football stadiums, reported Market Watch Wednesday.
“One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area,” said the mining company’s CEO John Shively in a statement following the decision. “The EIS clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life.”
Though the Pebble Mine was a controversial struggle, it was not an argument that further split Democrats and Republicans, but rather it divided conservationists and energy lobbyists within the Republican Party.
President Trump vacillated on the topic, though his son, Donald Trump Jr., a hunting and fishing enthusiast, was likely a highly influential figure in the administration’s decision to ultimately block the mine that was expected to drastically effect the fishing industry.
Shively accused the decision of being “politically motivated” and pointed to Presient-elect Joe Biden’s claim that more copper will be needed as the country seeks to advance renewable energy – though Biden flatly said he would not support the Pebble Mine project.
Alaska’s senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both members of the Republican Party, applauded the Army Corps decision Wednesday.
“This is the right decision, reached the right way,” Murkowski said in a statement. “It should validate our trust and faith in the well-established permitting process used to advance resource development projects throughout Alaska.”
Murkowski added: “It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource – Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery – and I hope it also marks the start of a more collaborative effort within the state to develop a sustainable vision for the region.”
But Alaska’s only congressmen, Rep. Don Young, also a GOP member said he was “disappointed” by the federal government’s decision and blamed “the voices of outside extremists.”