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US EPA chief Scott Pruitt suddenly halts approval process for Alaska mine project claiming he cares about the environment

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In a surprise move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed itself on Friday and halted the approval process for the proposed Pebble Mine copper and gold mine project in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

“It is my judgment at this time that any mining projects in the region likely pose a risk to the abundant natural resources that exist there,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

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President Donald Trump has championed increased domestic mining and the EPA’s decision to halt the Pebble Mine’s approval process comes as a surprise.

“Until we know the full extent of that risk, those natural resources and world-class fisheries deserve the utmost protection,” Pruitt said.

The Obama administration blocked the proposed mine in 2014 over environmental concerns. Last year, Pruitt reversed that decision, allowing the Canadian company behind the mine project to apply for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Pebble Limited Partnership, comprising Canadian miners Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd and First Quantum Minerals Ltd, is planning to mine 1.2 billion tons of material, including 287 million pounds of copper.

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Northern Dynasty Minerals said in a statement the permitting process for the mine being overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would continue.

“We expect the permitting process for Pebble to advance expeditiously over the next few years, and that a draft and final (Environmental Impact Statement) will be completed upon which final permitting decisions for the Pebble Project will be made,” Northern Dynasty Chief Executive Officer Ron Thiessen said.

Environmentalists, commercial and sport fishermen, many Alaska Native tribal organizations and even some Republican politicians have all criticized the project, which would be built on land near Lake Clark National Park.

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Alaska Governor Bill Walker, an independent, applauded the decision and thanked Pruitt “for listening to my input and that of thousands of Alaskans” who oppose the mine.

Pruitt indicated the mine could ultimately be approved.

“This decision neither deters nor derails the application process of Pebble Limited Partnership’s proposed project,” he said.

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“The project proponents continue to enjoy the protection of due process and the right to proceed. However, their permit application must clear a high bar, because EPA believes the risk to Bristol Bay may be unacceptable,” he said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh and Cynthia Osterman)


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Trump is furious over news coverage of Mick Mulvaney’s flub — and he’s growing ‘increasingly frustrated and agitated’

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President Donald Trump is watching Mick Mulvaney going down on cable news, said one political analyst on CNN Sunday. The criticism of the chief of staff came after Trump spent the weekend watching media coverage of Mulvaney's flub, the network reported.

"Trump has voraciously consumed news coverage about Mulvaney and has become more agitated," the source said according to the report. "Specifically, the President is concerned, according to the source, that Mulvaney is not transitioning enough to the role he is in now -- helping to lead the impeachment inquiry defense from the West Wing."

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Trump lashes out at Pelosi for going to Jordan to fix his Syria flub

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump

President Donald Trump tweeted his anger about Speaker Nancey Pelosi (D-CA) taking a delegation of leaders to Jordan to meet with those working on Syria.

"Pelosi is now leading a delegation of 9, including Corrupt Adam Schiff, to Jordan to check out Syria. She should find out why Obama drew The Red Line In the Sand, & then did NOTHING, losing Syria & all respect. I did something, 58 missiles. One million died under Obama’s mistake!" Trump tweeted Sunday.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1186016354572353536

Vice President Mike Pence went to Turkey last week to attempt to negotiate a ceasefire, but what he ended up with was 120-hour freeze on bombing Kurds.

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WATCH: Mike Pompeo goes dead silent when ABC corners him on Ukraine

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on "This Week" Sunday where he was faced with a question about chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's press conference Thursday.

During the press briefing, Mulvaney, who also serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget, confessed that Trump told him Ukraine corruption issues also had to do with the DNC server.

“That he also mentioned to me that the corruption related to the DNC server, absolutely,” said Mulvaney. “No question about it. That’s it and that’s why we held up the money.”

Pompeo said he wasn't going to answer any questions about hypotheticals, which he said host George Stephanopoulos was asking.

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