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(This version of the Jan. 26 story corrects headline, first, third and fifth paragraphs to show the EPA has maintained restrictions and not halted project approval process.)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a surprise move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed itself on Friday and maintained restrictions on 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.

President Donald Trump has championed increased domestic mining and the EPA’s decision to maintain restrictions on 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.

In Reversal, U.S. EPA Halts Approval Process for Alaska Mine Project

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