…the Army Corps preemptively vetoed the mining project even before it performed its environmental evaluations and impact assessment, which is required for projects that would discharge materials into the waters of the United States. The decision was like a teacher failing a student before he or she even takes the test.
EPA’s Reversal on Alaska’s Pebble Mine a Victory for Regulatory Process
For more than a decade, the owners of Alaska’s Pebble Mine just wanted a shot at going through the permitting phase of the project. But before the mine’s owners could even submit a permit application, the federal government in effect said, “Don’t bother.”
The Environmental Protection Agency, however, announced last Wednesday its intention to withdraw the Obama administration’s preemptive rejection of the Pebble Mine project and to move forward with a transparent, fact-based permit process.
Pebble Mine has an abundance of copper, gold, and molybdenum. Molybdenum is one of many rare earth minerals that the U.S. has beneath its soil. These elements are critical in numerous industries (from cellphones to electric batteries to military weapons) because of their relative strength, light weight, and highly conductive properties.
However, burdensome regulations and seemingly endless litigation thwarts extraction, stunting economic opportunities.
In the case of the Pebble Mine, the Obama administration prohibited the mining project from moving through the application process in 2014 by issuing a preemptive veto of the project, citing concerns over disposal of materials into Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed.
The Obama EPA’s proposed determination was essentially a conviction without investigation, arguing that the project would threaten Bristol Bay, which is home to the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon fishery.
However, the agency’s proposed determination blocked the project, based on an environmental analysis of a theoretical mine that would not come close to meeting state and federal standards for mining activities.
As The Wall Street Journal put it, “The Obama EPA ginned up a phony study based on a hypothetical mine to create a worst-case scenario and justify its veto.”
The normal process for obtaining a permit would be for the Army Corps of Engineers to release an environmental impact statement before approving or denying construction plans.
However, the Army Corps preemptively vetoed the mining project even before it performed its environmental evaluations and impact assessment, which is required for projects that would discharge materials into the waters of the United States.
The decision was like a teacher failing a student before he or she even takes the test.
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