Fresh off of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s trip to Alaska to take a look at the proposed Pebble Mine site and hold conversations with interested parties, the EPA and Alaska are again in the news together, but not for reasons you may think. From The Alaska Dispatch:
When agents with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force surged out of the wilderness around the remote community of Chicken wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE in big, bold letters, local placer miners didn’t quite know what to think.
Did it really take eight armed men and a squad-size display of paramilitary force to check for dirty water? Some of the miners, who run small businesses, say they felt intimidated.
Others wonder if the actions of the agents put everyone at risk. When your family business involves collecting gold far from nowhere, unusual behavior can be taken as a sign someone might be trying to stage a robbery. How is a remote placer miner to know the people in the jackets saying POLICE really are police?
Miners suggest it might have been better all around if officials had just shown up at the door — as they used to do — and said they wanted to check the water.
The EPA shows up — in remote Alaska — wearing police uniforms to check on the water discharges. Why the need for the guns and uniforms? The article indicates that this used to be more of a friendly visit. There’s more:
The officers were armed and wearing body armor. They were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and were there to check for violations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act, according to several miners who were contacted by the group. Section 404 governs water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.
The task force’s methods are now being questioned by the miners as well as the Alaska congressional delegation.
Hammond and other Chicken area miners aren’t alone in wondering what they have done now. Both Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have inquired into the task force’s actions. Congressman Don Young is also looking into it. They have been having a difficult time getting straight answers from the EPA.
The EPA appears to take the Clean Water Act seriously. As an aside, this is the same law that the environmentalists are attempting to use to shut down the Pebble Mine. But Alaskan State Troopers are claiming that the EPA lied to justify their insane show of force:
The EPA has refused to publicly explain why it used armed officers as part of what it called a “multi-jurisdictional” investigation of possible Clean Water Act violations in the area.
A conference call was held last week to address the investigation. On the line were members of the Alaska Congressional delegation, their staff, state officers, and the EPA. According to one Senate staffer, the federal agency said it decided to send in the task force armed and wearing body armor because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.”
This also came as news to the Alaska State Troopers, whom the EPA said supplied the information about drugs and human trafficking, and at least one U.S. senator.
“Their explanation — that there are concerns within the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on — sounds wholly concocted to me,” said Murkowski, R-Alaska.
“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity. We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.
Just another day at the EPA. Good thing they have veto power over huge parts of the economy.
Read the well-reported article on the raid here.