EPA Takes Action Against Alaska Mine Using Fictional Projections

01/08/2013 14:30

by Judy Kent

Washington, DC - The Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to bypass normal regulatory procedures to stop a mining project in a remote part of Alaska could have profound implications for domestic mining across the U.S., according to Dr. Bonner Cohen, in a scathing new report, "The EPA's Pebble Mine Assessment Puts Politics Above Sound Science."

The report, available here, has been submitted to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for use in an investigation of the EPA related to the proposed Pebble Mine project.

"Pre-empting the permitting process, EPA issued an assessment on the possible impact of Pebble Mine on Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed before the project's developers had even submitted a formal plan to government agencies for approval," stated Dr. Cohen.

Using a "Hypothetical Mine Scenario" based on a fictional mine, the EPA created an "ecological risk assessment." According to Dr. Cohen, the EPA then drew far-reaching conclusions on the mine's impact, bypassing and preempting a permitting process that is supposed to review real plans for real mines, not imaginary ones.

As is customary, the EPA subjected its work to a 12-member Peer Review Panel, which harshly criticized the EPA for using a fictional mine:

* "Unfortunately, because of the hypothetical nature of the approach employed, the uncertainty associated with the assessment... the utility of the assessment, is questionable," commented William A. Stubblefield, Senior Research Professor, Department of Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, Oregon State University.

* Charles Slaughter, a hydrologist at the University of Idaho, called the EPA process "pure hogwash."

"By circumventing the well-established permitting process, EPA undermines the trust of the entities it regulates and taxpayers who provide the agency's funding," Dr. Cohen points out. "Once the precedent is set that EPA can preemptively shut down any mining project before plans are submitted for permit review, what investor will risk time and capital in a doomed effort to win a regulatory game EPA has rigged?"

The proposed Pebble Mine has the potential to triple America's strategic reserves of copper and more than double her strategic reserves of gold. It could also nearly double America's reserves of molybdenum, allowing the U.S. to rival China as a global leader in the production of this critical metal used to harden steel for U.S. manufacturing and construction industries. Dr. Cohen's informative report details how the EPA stifles vital business activity by preempting the permitting process through the creation of imaginary, hypothetical, business scenarios.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative