Discussion surrounding Alaska’s controversial Pebble Mine has been growing more heated as we get into the thick of the election season, with opponents working to halt the mine’s development on every level, from local, Borough-level elections on up to the federal level. Much of this fall’s debate has centered on the EPA’s decision to conduct a watershed assessment in Bristol Bay aimed at evaluating the potential risks posed by the mine. The draft EPA report was evaluated by a panel of independent scientists in August, with a final report expected late this year or early next.
The Pebble Partnership hasn’t taken all this antagonism lying down. In addition to commissioning their own scientific review via the Keystone Foundation (read more about that here), they seem to have cranked up their lobbying efforts and done a good job of portraying the EPA’s action as an intrusion on Alaskan sovereignty by an overly activist, Obama-directed bureaucracy. That position was laid out neatly in a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal:
The EPA's power grab is an insult to ... the state of Alaska, which has every reason to evaluate the Pebble project carefully so it doesn't damage the state's lucrative fishing and tourism industries.
Under Mrs. Jackson, the EPA has become less a regulator following the law and more an ideological vanguard that will push its limits-to-growth agenda as long and as far as the courts and Congress allow. Watch out in a second Obama term.
Of course it’s not that simple, but they are right in noting, as I've written before, that this election season has massive implications for the EPA and, by extension, perhaps for the future of the Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay.
Stay tuned here for more on this subject.