The federal Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment was released yesterday by the EPA, splitting state and federal politicians on how a potential Pebble Mine would impact the vast salmon fishery.
Governor Sean Parnell said the study was expected and disappointing. He called the report “little more than a pretext for an EPA veto of the state’s permitting process, something the federal Clean Water Act prohibits.”
Parnell insisted he doesn’t trade one resource for another and said “every permitting application—when filed—deserves scientific and public scrutiny based on facts, not hypotheticals.”
U.S. Senator Mark Begich agreed that science should guide the discussion, but felt that EPA’s report was a good foundation for his decisions.
Begich said “my decision whether to support the Pebble project will be based on this report,. The stakes are high for Alaska – I have heard from thousands of Alaskans on this issue - and that is why I will be thoroughly reviewing the final watershed assessment .”
John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Partnership, said they “expected more of the EPA.”
Pebble has long argued that they haven’t yet submitted a plan for the mine and any studies done at this point are premature.
Shively said: “we have not finalized nor submitted a project for regulatory evaluation. The report is based upon a so-called ‘hypothetical mine’ of the EPA’s design. The hypothetical mines developed by EPA in their first two drafts did not employ the most advanced engineering and mining practices, as will most certainly be used at Pebble.”
Pebble insisted that the assessment should not be used as a guide for future agency decisions.