The Biden Administration’s latest action under the federal Clean Water Act against the Pebble Project would prevent the project from even having a chance to move through a fair and complete permitting process. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy is warning Alaskans about the implications for Alaska’s entire mining industry.
“Mining provides some of the best paying jobs in the state. Jobs that have never been needed more for Alaskan families to survive record price hikes in food and gas prices under Biden Administration policies,” said Governor Dunleavy. “EPA’s action could very well become the template for stopping future mines in Alaska and across the country. Alaska will not be bullied by Washington D.C. bureaucrats.”
EPA’s arbitrary and unilateral decision violates the intent of the Clean Water Act to place such decisions under primary authority of individual States (“It is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve and protect the … rights of States to … plan the development and use of land and water resources.”) Sec. 101(b). The EPA action also breaks promises made to Alaska by the Federal government in the Statehood Act.
“As we host the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference this week, it’s important to remember that sustainable energy, from wind turbines to photovoltaics to transmission lines require copper mining,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune. “That mining should be done right here in Alaska where we emphasize coexistence with our environment better than anyone. Today’s announcement only furthers to drive that development to the third world.”
“This proposal should alarm all Alaskans,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige. “The EPA is asserting that they can just sweep in and effectively veto any project they don’t like for political reasons. It places State’s rights on a very slippery slope. Pebble may be that target today, but what comes next?“
Specifically, the Congress promised the State of Alaska the state would receive both ownership of minerals in the subsurface of state land, and “[t]he right to prospect for, mine, and remove the same.” Sec. 6(i). Alaskans bargained hard and fought for the right to own state lands, own the minerals under those lands, and to remove minerals for the benefit of all Alaskans. The federal government agreed but now wants to break that promise.
EPA Region 10 is taking public comments on the proposed determination at public hearings in June and in writing through July 5. Information on how to provide public comment is available at www.epa.gov/bristolbay
“I encourage all Alaskans to support a full permitting process, responsible resource development, and good jobs for our state by commenting against this proposed determination,” added Governor Dunleavy.