A U.S. House Committee plans to examine whether the EPA unfairly blocked the Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska with a so-called “pre-emptive veto,” before the mine has even applied for permits.
The Science, Space and Technology Committee, chaired by Republican Lamar Smith of Texas, has invited consultant William Cohen as a witness. Cohen, a former Defense secretary hired by Pebble, says the EPA’s actions suggest the agency may have rigged the process to reach the position it wanted to take against the mine.
Mine opponents, though, say the EPA followed a rigorous process and used valid science to conclude the mine would endanger the headwaters of Bristol Bay and its rich salmon runs.
The congressional hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5. It’s unclear if the EPA’s Northwest regional director, Dennis McLerran, will be a witness at the hearing. Chairman Smith wants McLerran to answer questions from committee staff beforehand about the process the EPA followed.
The only witnesses named so far are Cohen and another consultant who worked on the report he authored.
- Corri Feige is not new to the agency she will now lead — she was previously the head of DNR's Division of Oil and Gas under Gov. Bill Walker.
- British Columbia is taking steps to fully clean up the abandoned Tulsequah Chief Mine. The defunct Canadian mine upstream from the Taku River has been leaching acid for more than 60 years.
- An Anchorage Superior Court judge issued a final order on the lawsuit, which was filed in August by the ACLU of Alaska, the group Dunleavy for Alaska and Palmer resident Eric Siebels.
- The Urban Indian Health Institute conducted the report over the past year amid concern that Native American and Alaska Native women are vanishing in high numbers, despite a lack of government data to identify the full scope of the problem.