While Members of Congress spent some time in their home districts last month, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy traveled to Alaska to discuss the President’s climate action plan and hear arguments from stakeholders in the Bristol Bay area on the proposed Pebble mine.
Opponents of the project used the occasion to once more push for a preemptive veto, saying that EPA should “finalize its assessment, and initiate action under the Clean Water Act to stop the Pebble Mine.” In doing so, they are looking to bypass the very framework they have been hailing as the “Magna Carta” of environmental protections – the process set forth under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which, in their own words is “awesome” as it “gives the public a seat at the table, and the chance to use it effectively, by bringing impacts and options out into the open.”
Meanwhile, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is calling for due process, a position ARPN has consistently supported. As Robert Dillon, spokesperson for the Senator told The Daily Caller:
“As Sen. Murkowski has consistently said, her concern is that the EPA is going beyond its authority in circumventing the established federal permitting process and setting a dangerous precedent for proposed economic development projects nationwide,” (…)
“The permitting process exists for a reason and a federal agency can no more ignore the established process than can an applicant,” Dillon added. “If the EPA has concerns about the impact of a project there is an appropriate time to raise them after a permit application has been made and the required analyses have been completed. Attempting to prejudge a hypothetical project is neither scientific or productive.”
Indeed, – and as environmentalists have acknowledged – the NEPA process simply guarantees that the environment is taken into account- and gives the public, the state, other agencies, and the applicant their chance to weigh in. More importantly, it allows for the identification of potential environmental impacts and the development of mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate possible harm.
Ultimately, NEPA uses the give and take of a public review to make projects better and safer for the environment. Allowing for due process under NEPA should be a “no-brainer.”
The fact that environmentalists are not interested in granting a fair and full review in this particular case speaks volumes.