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‘Gold over life, literally’: How Trump forced reversal on mining project EPA Scientists warn could destroy ecosystem

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“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold.”

“Gold over life, literally.”

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region. It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.” —Gayla Hoseth, Curyung Tribal Council/Bristol Bay Native AssociationThat was the succinct and critical reaction of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein to reporting on Friday that President Donald Trump had personally intervened—after a meeting with Alaska’s Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy on Air Force One in June—to withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency’s opposition to a gold mining project in the state that the federal government’s own scientists have acknowledged would destroy native fisheries and undermine the state’s fragile ecosystems.

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Based on reporting by CNN that only emerged Friday evening, the key developments happened weeks ago after Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Dunleavy—who has supported the copper and gold Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay despite the opposition of conservationists, Indigenous groups, salmon fisheries experts, and others.

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CNN reports:

In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause “complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in some areas of Bristol Bay. The agency invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act that works like a veto, effectively banning mining on the site.

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region,” Gayla Hoseth, second chief of the Curyung Tribal Council and a Bristol Bay Native Association director, told CNN. “It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.”

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When the internal announcement was made by Trump political appointees that the agency was dropping its opposition, which came one day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, sources told CNN it came as a “total shock” to some of the top EPA scientists who were planning to oppose the project on environmental grounds. Sources for the story, the news outlet noted, “asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.”

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According to CNN:

Four EPA sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN that senior agency officials in Washington summoned scientists and other staffers to an internal videoconference on June 27, the day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, to inform them of the agency’s reversal. The details of that meeting are not on any official EPA calendar and have not previously been reported.

Those sources said the decision disregards the standard assessment process under the Clean Water Act, cutting scientists out of the process.

The EPA’s new position on the project is the latest development in a decade-long battle that has pitted environmentalists, Alaskan Natives and the fishing industry against pro-mining interests in Alaska.

Responding to Klein’s tweet, fellow author and activist Bill McKibben—long a colleague of hers at 350.org—expressed similar contempt.

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“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold,” McKibben tweeted. Trump, he added, is “President Midas.”

After being told that the decision was made, one EPA inside told CNN, “I was dumbfounded. We were basically told we weren’t going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.”

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Dr. Fauci emotionally recounts his close relationship with the late AIDS activist Larry Kramer

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has burst on to the national stage as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, but his work as a public health official extends back decades. He was a key figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in an interview on PBS NewsHour on Wednesday, he offered a personal and emotional glimpse into that history.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Larry Kramer, a famed writer and influential AIDS activist, had died at age 84. PBS host Judy Woodroof noted that Fauci and Kramer had been friends.

"In the beginning of the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s, the two of you had a pretty contentious relationship," Woodroof said. "But that changed over time."

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REVEALED: An Obama-era plan to protect medical workers in a pandemic was thwarted under Trump

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that his Democratic predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama, left him ill-prepared to handle a major health crisis when, in fact, Obama’s administration left behind a comprehensive pandemic game plan that included a 69-page playbook. But Trump’s administration abandoned those Obama-era recommendations. On top of that, National Public Radio’s Brian Mann is reporting that Trump’s administration, in 2017, “stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19.”

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‘Don’t be a sucker’: CNN’s Cuomo begs viewers not to let Trump’s antics distract from the horror of COVID deaths

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," Chris Cuomo warned viewers not to be taken in by President Donald Trump's distraction tactics — and instead focus on the loss of human life from the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's a sad night. I don't know any other way to put it," said Cuomo. "I don't even like that the music's playing, to be honest. It's just three months. We've lost a hundred thousand lives. Do you need band music to tell you it's something urgent?"

"We were told this pandemic would magically disappear without any real trouble. A couple dozen cases," said Cuomo. "Today, did you hear what our president, Donald John Trump, said to calm and reassure our nerves, that we will do everything we can to keep us safe as we reopen and that he will make it his life's focus because that what a president does? Did you hear him say that? Me either. Not a damn word from Trump as this country is just struggling to get our heads and our hearts, let alone our hands around processing such loss so quickly. Suddenly he is now at a loss. Not even a tweet."

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