The Stream, January 20: Trump Presidency May Give Pebble Mine New Life

The Global Rundown

Today, Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States — an event that may also signal new life for the Pebble mining project in Alaska that stalled due to actions under the Clean Water Act. A mining company in Chile is selling its stake in a major hydropower project due to cost overruns. Oil fires continue to burn in Iraq and pose a potential threat to the Tigris River. A new study predicts that global sea levels could rise much more than previously expected, even without additional climate change. Power outages in Libya have cut water supplies in parts of Tripoli. Efforts to restore the Great Lakes are working in many areas, but toxic algal blooms remain a sticking point.

“Qayyara clearly shows that environmental damage in conflicts is a humanitarian issue, with acute and potentially long term consequences.” –Doug Weir, manager at the Toxic Remnants of War Project, commenting on the degradation caused by months-long oil fires lit by the Islamic State in Iraq. In addition to air pollution from the fires, new images show that the oil may pose a threat to the Tigris River. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

22 percent Cost overruns announced this week for the $2 billion Alto Maipo hydropower project in Chile. As a result, mining company Antofagasta is selling its stake in the project, which has also been the subject of protests over its effect on the Maipo River. Reuters

In context: Explore how economic, ecological, and social pressures are stranding assets and megaprojects around the globe.

$32.4 million Amount raised last week by Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian mining exploration company behind the stalled Pebble gold and copper project in Alaska. Investors expect the administration of Donald Trump, who is sworn into office today, to push for the mine’s approval despite concerns raised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups about the destruction of important salmon streams. Bloomberg

In context: Learn about the EPA’s proposed veto of the Pebble mine project under the federal Clean Water Act.

6 meters Height global sea levels could rise in the long-term even if water temperatures remain the same as they are today, according to a study published in Science. The study found that sea levels thousands of years ago rose to such levels under a similar temperature scenario. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

The International Joint Commission, the binational agency that manages waterways shared by Canada and the United States, released a draft review this week detailing the progress the countries have made on protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. The report commended the governments on their efforts to clean up legacy pollution, but called water quality in western and central Lake Erie “unacceptable” due to nutrient pollution that feeds toxic algal blooms. The agency is seeking public comment on the report until April 15. IJC

In context: Explore Circle of Blue’s reports on the most important water issues in the Great Lakes region.

On The Radar

The prime minister of Libya was forced to cancel his appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos in order to address major power outages in Tripoli and the surrounding region. The outages, caused by protests, have also cut water supplies to some areas. Bloomberg