Conservatives looking to affirm the old adage that regulatory uncertainty kills jobs have new evidence: the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 10 Bristol Bay, Alaska Mining Assessment. So powerful is the EPA that an obscure report can threaten 30,000 jobs and a billion dollar mining project.
The Bristol Bay Assessment
Released last week, the Bristol Bay Assessment pours cold water on the prospective Alaskan Pebble Mine, a uniquely large deposit of copper and gold valued at $30 billion. In order to develop the world’s largest untouched copper cache, the Pebble Mine’s prospectors need to apply for and receive numerous permits from federal and state agencies. One requisite authorization is the Clean Water Act’s 404(c) permit issued by the Army Corp of Engineers but codified by the EPA.
A variety of interest groups, from national environmentalists to commercial fishers, have urged the EPA to kill the Pebble Mine by pre-emptively denying the necessary 404(c) permit. These groups do not want the EPA to review the years of water, soil, and environmental data collected by the Pebble Mine’s developers – no debate, no discussion, end the application process before it begins. There are real concerns about the Pebble Mine’s environmental impact, especially on the local salmon population, but the far left’s unconditional “Stop Pebble” mantra reveals their fear of discussion.
Sounding a dog whistle, the EPA signaled their disapproval of the project through a series of extra-regulatory reports on the area surrounding the Pebble Mine site. In April of 2013, the EPA released a revised draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed. The game was rigged from the start – EPA used anti-mining organizations like Earthworks as peer-reviewers.
Assumptions Made By The EPA Report
The report also made a number of strange assumptions about mitigation plans that run contrary to standard Alaskan practices. Unsurprisingly, these assumptions led the EPA to conclude that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to build an environmentally safe mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska...