Today The Washington Post has a surprising editorial endorsing the idea that the proposed Pebble Mine ought to be given a fare shake, rather than being outright rejected due to radical environmental pressure groups:
The final proposal for the so-called Pebble Mine isn’t out yet. But the idea would be to construct a huge pit mine, waste-storage areas, processing plants, ground-transportation facilities, a power plant and a new deep-water port. The companies say they can do all that with minimal environmental damage, employing a team of engineers to make the facilities safe. And, they say, the damage they do cause can be offset with replacement habitat they will build elsewhere.
The conservationists want the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to reject the whole project now, instead of continuing with government reviews.
The EPA’s preliminary analysis is, indeed, worrisome, and the environmentalists are right to insist that the landscape be preserved. If it’s a choice between habitat and mine, habitat should win.
Yet the mining companies insist that there is no such choice. They can, for example, build extremely high and strong tailings dams, engineering the whole project beyond what standard industry practices would dictate. All they want, they say, is a fair and thorough evaluation of their claims. That is reasonable. If complete federal reviews find that the companies can’t protect the fishery, regulators can reject the project. But, given the potential economic value of the mine, they should hear the companies out.
Read the entire editorial here.
The position taken by The Washington Post is sensible. The mine would be a significant boon to Alaska’s economy assuming it can be constructed in a way that is not destructive to the salmon population. It would be a mistake for the EPA to prevent the mine from entering the permitting process, by submitting a public plan that can be commented upon and evaluated by regulatory authorities.
Yet the EPA is being pressured to do exactly that by environmental activists across the country. Few of these opponents even live in Alaska.
Kudos to The Washington Post for calling attention to this issue and pushing back on the environmental narrative that this mine is allegedly so risky that the developers should not even be allowed to submit a proposal.