A few months ago we reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had snubbed Native American groups in an apparent effort to ‘Keystone’ the Pebble Mine Project in Alaska. The same group of mining supporters have tried to meet with EPA Director Lisa Jackson again and again she has refused to meet with them.
Both Native groups, community leaders and authorities (including Alaska’s Attorney General) have attempted to meet with and have their voices heard by the EPA. But it appears the EPA has developed selective hearing, only giving an ear to the voices of those who agree with the radical environmentalists who seem to oppose any development of resources within the United States.
A June 21, 2012 Greenwire article quotes an EPA spokesperson who states that the EPA has reached out to Native communities in Southwestern Alaska to offer them an opportunity to have their voices heard regarding the Pebble Mine Project. However, according to Trefon Angasan, board chairman of Alaska Peninsula Corp., a grouping of Alaska Native villages, the communities that have had the ear of the EPA aren’t close to the potential mining site. One of the communities Lisa Jackson has visited is Dillingham, Alaska, an anti-mining stronghold.
“We should have a consultation established with the EPA, and we don’t,” Angasan said, complaining about the lack of high-level consultation required for federally recognized tribes. “We have been excluded from the development of that watershed assessment.”
EPA’s comment period on the draft assessment runs through July 23. Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty (R) is calling for a delay until November.
“In short, this is a voluminous amount of complex information that requires thorough public review and comment,” Geraghty told the agency in a recent letter. “As EPA is well aware, normally such information for a specific proposed project takes several years to gather and be scientifically vetted and scrutinized by multiple state and federal agencies, which has not occurred here.”
Angasan said, “Right now, our people are gathering, they are fishing, they’re getting ready to fill their freezers for the summer so they can survive the winter. And they don’t have time to put everything aside.”
The EPA has not ruled out a preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine Project’s permitting process using the Clean Water Act. All this while the economic viability of the Native Alaskan communities in the area are tenuous at best. The Pebble Mine Project would inject jobs and businesses into the area that would not only allow the communities to survive, but would help them thrive. Lisa Reimers, CEO of Iliamna Development Corp. says that preemptively vetoing the development of Pebble Mine could amount to ‘cultural genocide’ for the Native peoples living in the area.
There is a lot at stake here. How this situation plays out in Alaska has implications far beyond Bristol Bay. The EPA’s unprecedented power grab and expansion impacts not only Alaskans and the Pebble Mine Project. If the EPA succeeds in preemptively shutting down the Pebble Mine Project, they will have the power to do the same with any project any where without input from local people and authorities.
This is not just about shutting down the jobs and economic boost available through the Pebble Mine Project. It is about the expansion of EPA’s power to use the Clean Water Act to shut down private citizens who just want to build a home or any other industrial project that attracts the ire of the radical environmentalists.
You can help by signing a letter, which will send an official comment to the EPA requesting that they extend the commenting period on Pebble, which is too short for a thoughtful discussion on this issue: Sign the letter here.