Will There Be a Pebble Mine?

The EPA recently wrapped up a series of meetings discussing the assessment report the agency produced assessing the theoretical effects of a mining project in Alaska, as we have discussed here previously. As Pat Michaels pointed out, it’s a tad ironic that the EPA began their series of hearings in Washington State, rather than Alaska where the mine will actually be located:

The Obama Administration has been under relentless pressure to stop Pebble—much more of the pressure emanating from hordes of bicoastal environmentalists as opposed to citizens of sparsely populated Alaska. EPA’s Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaskais designed as the first step to do just that, before the Pebble developers have even submitted one permit application.

All of this has very little to do with the welfare of Alaskans. It has much more to do with the President pleasing his environmental base. In fact, it seems that the less that one has been to Alaska, the more one knows what’s best for it. The dinosaur media, especially in northeastern cities, is particularly exercised about the stretch of desolate Alaska that is Pebble—land that was traded by the federal government to the State for mineral development, in exchange for the some land that became Lake Clark Park and Preserve.

EPA’s Assessment ignores this history and the positive economic impact $7 billion of new infrastructure would bring to a place without a diverse economy. The Assessment is designed to be used for regulation based upon the “precautionary principle”. This darling of the global left states that “if something has the potential to cause harm, it shouldn’t be done”. The UN’s a big fan and reports are that they have been sniffing around parts of Bristol Bay looking for a way to get in on the Pebble issue. In fact, its Framework Convention on Climate Change—the scaffold upon which the failed Kyoto Protocol on global warming was erected–is based on the precautionary principle, noting that a lack “full scientific certainty” should not provide grounds to preclude regulation.

It appears that the environmentalists are gearing up to turn this into the next KeystoneXL fight, possibly shutting down the potential for any mining in the area at all.

After the EPA assessment report, there is a 60 day comment period, presumably after which the EPA will decide if they plan to attempt to pre-emptively veto the mine before any permits have been applied for. Resourceful Earth recently set up an opportunity for activists on our side to get involved: write the EPA and politely ask them to extend the commenting period. The EPA’s study took quite a long time to prepare, as has all of the preparation work by the companies interested in the proposed Pebble Mine. The idea that all of this can be settled in 60 days is absurd. Even the Alaskan Attorney General has asked the EPA to extend the commenting period.

Let us hope they listen. The EPA, unfortunately, has vast control over what type of projects are allowed to go on in the United States. If they successfully use the Clean Water Act to veto the mine before a plan has even been submitted to them, a dangerous precedent will have been set. Environmentalists throughout the country will petition the EPA for every project that has even a miniscule effect on the earth’s natural environment.


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