The developer of the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine and the federal agency seeking to block it are asking a federal judge to halt their court battle over the project until March.
Both sides say they want the court case to be put on hold so that they can pursue settlement talks. Neither, though, is ready to talk publicly about how the case might be resolved.
The hold would extend well into the new Trump administration, with a pro-development president and appointees who want to scale back the role of government.
Pebble Limited Partnership sued the Environmental Protection Agency in September 2014 to prevent it from using a novel mechanism to block a mega-mine like that proposed by Pebble at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to the biggest remaining wild sockeye salmon runs in the world. In a preliminary injunction that November, U.S. District Judge Russel Holland ordered the EPA to stop work on a Pebble veto until the full merits of the case could be heard.