Donald Trump Jr.’s Opposition to the Pebble Mine Shouldn’t Matter

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Well-connected sportsmen, often Republicans, have been known to side with environmental obstructionists on occasion. When they learn that one of their isolated hunting or fishing spots may become less isolated by mining or logging or drilling in the general vicinity, they often use their influence to help kill a proposed project. Avid hunter and former Vice President Dick Cheney did so a few times., and now it appears that it is Donald Trump Jr.’s turn.

Trump Jr.’s ire is aimed at the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. Located in the Ohio-sized Bristol Bay Watershed, it has the potential to be America’s largest new mine in years, containing vast amounts of copper, molybdenum, gold, and critical rare earths. It would create thousands of jobs in a region that needs them and would increase the domestic supply of several strategic elements. But environmental activists and several local tribes have raised concerns about the impact on the salmon fishery. Trump Jr. has both hunted and fished in the region. “The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with,” he recently tweeted.          

Should these concerns be checked out before the mine is given a green light? Absolutely, and they already have been. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, has just issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed mine. This exhaustive assessment—anyone wishing to read the report and supporting documents should set aside a few weeks—did not find any undue risks from the mine plan, including risks to the salmon. And it included extensive input from the entity with the most at stake, the state of Alaska. Needless to say, Trump Jr. did not identify any specific reasons to question this assessment. He could have weighed in, along with any other interested person, while the proposed Environmental Impact Statement was under review, but did not. Doing so would have more appropriate than trying to pressure the administration outside this process.

Beyond Pebble, Donald Jr. must be aware of the environmental doomsday hyperbole used to attack his father on a near daily basis, so it is all the more distressing that he would embrace the same overblown fears from the same extremists when it suits him.