Surely the EPA hasn’t always been a hatchery for leftist extremist tree-hugger conspiracies.
Except that it has.
Setting the wayback machine to 2000, a Canadian company named Northern Dynasty purchased an Alaskan mine under a subsidiary, Pebble Limited Partnership. The Pebble mine is said to be the largest deposit of copper, gold and molybdenum in North America. Gold is, well, gold, but in case you don’t know, copper is also extremely valuable these days—judging by the rampant copper theft.
Since this particular mine is is located in Bristol Bay, home of the largest salmon run in the world, and a mecca for trout fisherman, it was bound to be controversial, and it is. The enviro-kooks at the EPA took more than a passing interest in the Pebble project. They view everything like a kids cartoon, where Northern Dynasty is the mustache-twirling evil polluter, and the innocent-yet-genius residents of Bristol Bay defeat him with teamwork and superpowers. The EPA, of course, is the superhero.
Our problem is that the EPA really has a superpower: a Clean Water Act 404(c) veto. This gives the agency the authority to deny a water, fill or dredge discharge permit if the use would harm natural resources. The 404(c) veto has only been used 13 times since 1972, and never to stop a project before a discharge permit application has been filed.
This time, the EPA is vetoing a project before the company who owns the land has even submitted a plan.
Pebble Partnership has taken over ten years (and $450 million) to work on a plan for a modern open-pit mine with enough containment to protect the environment. Whether you believe the engineering and technology behind Pebble’s plan, doesn’t it deserve a fair evaluation?
To the religious zealots at the EPA, apparently not.
To avoid the messy fight over losing 1,000 jobs for 20-25 years while the mine is active, the EPA appears to have conducted its own PR campaign among the local people and influential tribal corporations, going back before 2009.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also is investigating. A year into its inquiry, though, the committee is hitting roadblocks. Phil North, a key, now-retired EPA biologist can’t be located. North worked in the EPA’s Kenai office and is a longtime acquaintance of the lawyer who filed the tribe’s request for an EPA veto. Some accuse North of initiating the Pebble Mine veto discussion within the EPA and even helping opponents craft the letter to the agency.
The by-now-familiar story line coming out of Washington…we lost the emails, and this time we even lost the person who wrote them.
Now, not only is North unavailable to the committee, but two years’ worth of his emails about Pebble Mine are also missing. In response to the oversight committee’s request, the EPA searched North’s laptop and old computer hard drive, and three external hard drives, but could not find any of his electronic documents related to the mine for the period between April 2007 and May 2009. The EPA says it is still searching.
I wonder what the Vegas line on him being found is.
This is reason number 8,154 why we should shutter the EPA.