In a detailed letter sent to inspectors general in the Department of Defense and the Army Corps of Engineers, the committee stated that committee members are “concerned that Army troops have expedited the Clean Water Act that allows the review process (National Act of Environmental Protection) at the expense of a complete scientific summary “.
The controversial proposed Alaska gold and copper mine was given a major boost just two weeks ago when troops released a final report concluding that the Pebble mine project would not cause long-term damage in one of the largest directions in remaining salmon world.
Army troops declined to comment on the letter, citing the ongoing permitting process saying it would be “inappropriate”; to do so.
“We have received many media inquiries and questions from stakeholders regarding the content of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS is now available for consideration by any interested party,” said John Budnik, Corps spokesman. of the Army. “The Corps Decision Minutes, when completed, will be a publicly available document.”
The findings in the latest Corps report were a sharp reversal from the conclusions of the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency, which essentially blocked progress in the mine due to environmental concerns, including the possibility of permanent damage to the pristine catchment area. Bristol Bay.
Monday’s letter from members of the House Oversight and Reform Commission states that the accelerated Corps timeline “seems … unsuitable for a tough mine of this magnitude, complexity and potential regional environmental, social and economic impacts, and “especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”
The letter from the Oversight Committee also states that “even more worrying is that despite repeated requests and requests from federal, state, local and tribal co-operation agencies and stakeholders for a more comprehensive review process, Army Troops appear to have set aside a full scientific review in favor of an expedited authorization deadline. “
The latest report from Army Corps was a major triumph for project developers, illustrating the Trump administration’s opposite approach to the project from that of its predecessor. The decision echoed the other environmental returns the administration has ordered for previous administration decisions.
The new Corpus report found that the colossal mine and its development “are not expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes in the health of commercial fishery in Bristol Bay”.
This finding was strongly opposed by the end of the Obama administration. In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study by more than 100 scientists, the Obama administration’s EPA invoked a provision rarely used by the Clean Water Act, in an effort to protect Bristol Bay after discovering that a mine “would result in complete loss of habitat fish due to elimination, water accumulation and fragmentation of streams, wetlands and other water sources” in some bay areas.
“All these losses would be irreversible,” the agency said at the time.
The Bristol Bay watershed and area is rated as one of the world’s most important salmon fishermen, producing nearly half of the world’s annual wild salmon catches. Its ecological resources also support 4,000 years old indigenous crops, as well as about 14,000 regular and part-time jobs, according to the 2014 EPA report.
Citing a CNN report, the oversight letter states: “It was reported that EPA staff discovered that this decision was made at the EPA on June 27, 2019, a day after the President met with Alaska Governor Mike Dulvaney on Air Force One , which raises the question of whether the EPA decision to withdraw the proposed designation was arbitrary and capricious. “
The new letter from the Oversight Committee was signed by Chair Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and Reps. Jackie Speier and Harley Rouda, both Democrats of California.
A spokesman for Pebble, which is owned by Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals, said the company is not against any investigation.
“We welcome any such review – especially one as unfounded as this,” said Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwole.
The “Corps” was thorough and transparent. The review was not rushed, “Heatwole added.
On Sunday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that if he is elected his administration will stop the project.