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NRDC Calls Pebble Mine Parent Company ‘Tone Deaf’ In Blog Post

After the Environmental Protection Agency’s comment period recently ended to further protect Bristol Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council has reacted to Pebble Mine’s parent company’s own comments to the EPA. . First, here’s what Northern Dynasty Minerals said earlier this month:

“The comments we filed today make it clear that there is absolutely no justification for the EPA’s actions against Project Pebble. The EPA’s proposed veto at Pebble is legally, environmentally, and technically baseless. The EPA’s action is premature and goes against decades of regulatory precedent for fair and due process for development projects in Alaska and around the country.

“The EPA’s actions are politically motivated, and in our comments today, we explain how indefensible this veto process has become. The EPA has made extremely speculative statements about the possible negative impacts of Pebble’s development that are not supported by any defensible data and are in direct contradiction to the facts demonstrated in USACE’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). for the Pebble project. The SIEF makes it clear that Pebble can be developed without harming the Bristol Bay fishery. The regulations and court precedents specify that the EPA must establish that the development will have demonstrable negative impacts before it can veto it, and the EPA has not done so. Simply put, the EPA’s speculation of impacts is not the same as demonstrating the impacts that will occur.

“Congress has not given the EPA broad authority to act as it did in the Pebble case. The 404 veto was intended to be narrowly defined and for specific areas. In this case, the EPA preemptively vetoed 309 square miles (nearly 200,000 acres) of Alaska state land, an area 66 times larger than any previous 404 veto. . In fact, this site ban is 23 times larger than the entire mine site footprint. This is clearly a massive regulatory override by the EPA and well outside of what Congress intended for the agency when it passed the Clean Water Act.

“Perhaps the most egregious aspect of this entire process is the EPA’s blatant dismissal of the significant economic benefits this project could have for the region and for the state without explanation or justification. The EPA ignores what hundreds or even thousands of jobs could mean for communities around Lake Iliamna. I know from personal experience what jobs mean to small rural Alaskan communities and the Alaska Natives who live there. The final EIA clearly demonstrates the dramatic impact responsible development of Pebble could have on these communities. The benefits are indisputable.

“If the EPA were to finalize its Pebble veto, there are numerous violations of rights, agreements, and laws that profoundly affect Alaska’s future, and these will likely be challenged in court. EPA blatantly ignored the State of Alaska, which is the landowner that specifically selected the Pebble area for its mineral potential.If the EPA finalizes its veto and rules out development on 309 square miles of land in the Alaska, this would violate the Alaska Statehood Compact and the “no-more” clause of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which requires congressional approval for any additional park land. in Alaska. The EPA would also violate the United States Constitution by stripping the state and the project of legally protected property interests in the underlying mineral rights to the land, without any just compensation.

And here is the response from the NRDC published today:

There is no doubt about public opinion, and there hasn’t even been a question for a very long time. Although Alaska is a mine-friendly state, the Pebble Mine was opposed for more than a decade by approximately 80% of Bristol Bay residents, with 65–70% of state residents opposed. Outside of Alaska, there is no mining project more widely condemned than the Pebble Mine, and there is no way that condemnation will fade.

Pebble’s Response to the EPA’s Proposed Ruling

Nevertheless, seemingly intrepid by years of financial and permit failure, the 100% owner of the project Northern Dynasty Minerals (and its wholly owned subsidiary, Pebble Partnership) (“Pebble”) have submitted comments to the EPA that are more muted than ever. Indeed, in its accompanying September 8, 2022 press release, Pebble offers a veritable blanket of intemperate hyperbole.

He calls the EPA’s proposed action “massive overshoot,” “politically motivated,” “legally, environmentally, and technically unsubstantiated,” “extremely speculative,” and “unsupported by defensible data.” Claiming that the EPA is required by law to demonstrate that its project “will have demonstrable negative effects before a veto can be issued” (emphasis added), Pebble asserts that the EPA has failed to meet this standard and, in any case, that its action is “premature”, the product of the “bias” of the EPA and a violation of the “no more clause” of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (“ANILCA”) which “requires congressional approval for any additional parks in Alaska”.

Although this time his criticism is more virulent, none of these or other complaints are new, and all have already been dealt with – repeatedly. And there’s simply no way to reconcile Pebble’s misinterpretation of what the EPA has proposed with the scientific record on which the agency’s proposal is actually based.

So, shots fired.

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