In a detailed letter sent to the inspector-general offices in the Department of Defense and the Army Corps of Engineers, the committee said that its members were “concerned that the Corps had already expedited the process of permitting the Water Law. clean and (National Environmental Protection Act). at the cost of a thorough scientific review. “
The proposed controversial gold and copper mine in Alaska was spurred just two weeks before the Corps released its final report concluding that the Pebble Mine project would not cause lasting harm to one of the major salmon grounds. world’s most surviving.
The Army declined to comment on the letter, citing the ongoing licensing process and saying it was “inappropriate”; to do so.
John Budnik, spokesman for the Corps, said: “We have received many requests from the media and questions from interested parties regarding the content of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIS). . FEIS is available for review by any interested party. ” “The Legion’s Decision Record, when complete, will be a publicly available document.”
The findings in the Corps’ recent report are a strong reversal of the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusions, which essentially stopped mining progress because of environmental concerns. , including the potential to cause permanent damage to the pristine Bristol Bay watershed.
Monday’s letter from members of the House Reform and Supervision Committee stating the Legion’s urgent timeline “seems … unsuitable for a hard mine of this size, complexity and potential environmental, social, and economic impacts of the region and the state – especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “
The letter from the Supervisory Commission also states that “it is more troubling that despite repeated pleas and requests from federal, state, local and tribal cooperation agencies and stakeholders on a more comprehensive review process, but it seems that the Corps has spent a thorough scientific review in favor of a quick allowable time process. “
The Army Corps’ recent report was a huge success for project developers, illustrating the Trump administration’s opposing approach to the project over its predecessor. This decision echoes another environmental reversal that the government ordered against the previous government’s decisions.
The new Corps report shows that the giant mine and its development “will have no measurable impact on fish populations and lead to long-term changes to the health of commercial fisheries in the Gulf. Bristol. “
That finding is in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s conclusion. In 2014, after three years of fellow research by more than 100 scientists, the Obama administration’s EPA invoked a rarely used clause of the Clean Water Act to try to protect Bristol Bay after its discovery. that a mine “will cause fish to lose habitat due to the removal, dehydration and fragmentation of streams, wetlands and other aquatic resources” in some areas of the bay.
“All these losses will not be recovered,” the agency said at the time.
The Bristol Bay area and basin is considered to be one of the world’s most important salmon catches, producing nearly half of the world’s annual natural black-eyed salmon catches. Its ecological resources also support 4,000-year-old indigenous cultures, as well as about 14,000 full-time and part-time jobs, according to a 2014 EPA report.
Citing a CNN report, the Oversight letter writes: “It was reported that EPA staff revealed that the decision was made at EPA on June 27, 2019, a day after the President met with the Governor. Alaska Mike Dulvaney on Air Force One. The question of whether the EPA’s decision to withdraw the Proposed Decision is arbitrary and erratic. “
The new letter from the Supervisory Commission was signed by President Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, and Representatives Jackie Speier and Harley Rouda, both California Democrats.
A Pebble spokesperson, owned by Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals, said the company does not object to any investigation.
“We welcome any such review – especially a baseless one like this,” said Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwole.
“The (Corps) review was thorough and transparent. The review was in no hurry,” Heatwole added.
On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said that if he was elected his administration would stop the project.