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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Comment on the EPA’s Flawed Watershed Assessment

    Dear Reader,

    We are writing to warn you of a federal action that could dramatically impact America’s domestic supplies of natural resources.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its revised draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment last month in response to calls from anti-mining groups for the EPA to issue a preemptive permit veto under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act of the Pebble mine outside of the prescribed permitting process.

    A preemptive permit veto prior to the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process has never been done. If this precedent is set, every exploratory domestic resource project in the United States will be at risk.

    To lay the groundwork for the 404(c) denial, the EPA conducted the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment based on the potential impacts of a hypothetical mine in southwestern Alaska. The study is of a hypothetical mine because the company has not even developed a mine plan yet.

    The public comment period on the revised assessment is open until May 31, 2013. In an effort to ensure a balanced debate – as environmentalists will undoubtedly make ample use of their opportunity to voice their opposition to the project and an expansion of EPA authority via the EPA’s solicitation of public comment – we ask that you consider weighing in on this important issue and submit a comment to the EPA via their website.

    Here are some key facts and links for further information. For your convenience, a sample message is pasted below.
     
    Facts:

    • In May of 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in response to call for a 404C Clean Water Act permit denial, released a cursory review of the Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska – in spite of the fact that no permit application or specific plans had been submitted.
    • The EPA’s unprecedented early action was part of efforts to derail the development of one of the largest domestic deposits of key strategic mineral resources (Copper, Molybdenum, Gold, Silver and Rhenium) in the so-called Pebble Deposit in Southwestern Alaska.
    • Even scientists serving on the peer-review panel instituted by EPA to validate their study have criticized the purely hypothetical mine scenario used by EPA, and even used the term “hogwash” to characterize the approach.
    • In April 2013, the EPA released its revised draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Not only does the assessment continue to focus on a hypothetical scenario, it also continues to rely on research paid for by an anti-mining group called Earthworks and conducted by a scientist who recently admitted to developing and submitting a tainted research report to win a $19 billion environmental tort judgment.
    • While the U.S. is the world’s third-largest Copper producer, the related risk exposure to possible supply disruption is disproportionately greater than it is for any other mineral. On the national security front, the Pentagon has already reported a “significant delay” to a major weapons program due to inadequate copper supply.
    • The unilateral expansion of EPA powers under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act would effectively give the agency ultimate authority to derail any project in the United States that touches on water — with potential impact for projects in every sector of the US economy, from mining to farming, manufacturing, building, energy, and water treatment.

     
    Links

     
    Sample Message:

    Dear Mr. Perciasepe,

    I write to express my concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s revised draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which is flawed on several levels.

    Not only does the assessment focus on a purely hypothetical scenario relating to the Pebble deposit, as no official permit requests or plans have been submitted, the assessment continues to rely on research from avowed biased anti mining groups such as Earthworks that have stated there is no large mine in the Unites States or the World that they support.

    The Pebble deposit could be the largest copper resource in American history. Responsible development of it could create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs and billions in economic development.

    At a time when America is struggling to expand its economy and compete with nations like China for raw resources, it is bad public policy that the Environmental Protection Agency would press ahead with a efforts to prevent a mining outside of the prescribed NEPA permitting process, as it would have devastating impacts on America’s natural resource development, exploration, investment, and development.

    Sincerely,

    xxxx

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  • EPA’s revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment flawed on several levels

    Pulling a classic Friday afternoon document drop, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its revised draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment on Friday afternoon – only two days after tamping down media expectations that the release was imminent.

    As American Resources President Daniel McGroarty pointed out in an email to journalists on Friday, the flawed assessment draws from research conducted by Stratus Consulting and Ann Maest, the firm’s managing scientist, both of which earlier this month admitted to having falsified research in a long-running high profile environmental lawsuit against energy company Chevron.

    The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch has covered the story.

    As Bastasch explains,

    “Maest and Stratus claimed earlier this month that they had been misled by a plaintiffs’ lawyer when they provided an environmental report detailing the damage done by Chevron subsidiary Texaco to areas of Ecuador. They disavowed the report as ‘tainted.’

    “The environmental impact report used against Chevron was supposed to be written by an independent expert, but was instead written by Stratus, which was employed by lawyers representing Ecuadorian villagers.”

    These trial lawyers, according to Stratus, demanded that the assessment be ghost-written by Stratus and Maest to appear as if written by Richard Cabrera, the court-appointed expert, and that Stratus’s involvement be kept secret.

    Upon admitting to falsifying the report Stratus released a statement saying:

    “Stratus believes that the damages assessment in the Cabrera Report and the entire Cabrera process were fatally tainted and are not reliable. Stratus disavows the Cabrera Report, has agreed to cooperate fully and to provide testimony about the Ecuador litigation.”

    As Bastasch points out,

    “The company’s involvement in the Chevron case does not appear to have dampened the EPA’s willingness to work with Stratus. The regulator’s review of the Pebble Mine cites Maest’s work in conjunction with Stratus seven times. The review also cites Maest’s work in conjunction with consulting firm Buka Environmental four times.”

    The plot thickens when you consider that even before the Cabrera report admission, Maest had done consultancy work for anti-mining groups. One such group, CSP2, has stated on its website that Maest and a colleague at Stratus Consulting have provided technical assistance on geochemistry and hydrology for CSP2’s work in support of a coalition opposing the Pebble mine in Alaska.

    Consequently, American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty has called for the EPA to “withdraw Maest’s research from the assessment and conduct a thorough review of any and all work Stratus Consulting has done for EPA.”

    Beyond relying on discredited researchers, the assessment is still seriously flawed, as it merely evaluates a hypothetical project as no formal plans have been submitted, leading Pebble LP, a venture by Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American PLC, to repeat its call for “due process,” which Greenwire’s Manuel Quinones translates as shorthand for the ability to go through the permitting process.” (subscription required)

    Quinones cites Pebble CEO John Shively who argues:

    “At a time when the entire executive branch is having to cut important program funding because of sequestration, it is stunning that the EPA continues to pursue this matter instead of waiting for a permit application to review through the well-established regulatory process.”

    However, considering the EPA’s recent history of regulatory overreach – West Virginia’s Spruce Mine being a case in point – there is little hope the agency will change its ways.

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  • A Response to the EPA’s Release of its Revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

    The EPA just released its revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, outlining the potential impacts of a hypothetical mine in the Pebble region of southwestern Alaska. Unfortunately, the EPA’s study relies on research conducted by the U.S. firm Stratus Consulting and its Managing Scientist, Ann Maest, both of whom just a few short days ago publicly [...]
  • House Oversight Committee threatens use of subpoena powers in case of the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed assessment

    As the Daily Caller reports, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform is stepping up the pressure on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the context of the agency’s controversial negative review of a potential mining project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area. Reiterating a request made in May of 2012, when the EPA [...]
  • EPA overregulation could cost U.S. $220 billion in investment

    The Daily Caller reports that the EPA’s preemptive assessment of the Pebble copper and gold mine in Alaska could cost the U.S. $220 billion in investment. The agency’s report, based on an evaluation of a hypothetical mine, expresses concern over the site’s potential environmental impact and could lead to Pebble’s rejection before it has a [...]
  • New Zealand Government Seeks to Accelerate Mining Permits

    While the U.S. Government continues to talk about critical minerals access and the dangers of foreign dependency, New Zealand’s government is taking action. According to MiningNe.ws, the New Zealand government is “looking at ways of speeding up approvals for big mining projects because endless court action is “frustrating” companies and costing them millions.” Here are [...]
  • Critical Minerals, national security and EPA overreach

    In a new column featured on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s website, American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty discusses the latest American Resources report on Critical Minerals & National Security in the context of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest manifestations of regulatory overreach. Here are his key points: The EPA’s activist approach to regulating natural resource [...]
  • Review of Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska: Is EPA Reaching for the Kill Switch?

    Sounding the alarm on the possible impact of hypothetical mining — in spite of the fact that no permit application or specific plans have been submitted — the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a cursory review of the Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska. The EPA’s unprecedented early action is part of the agency’s effort [...]
  • Dan McGroarty featured on Lars Larson Show, PayneNation

    American Resources Principal Dan McGroarty appeared on the Lars Larson show and Charles Payne’s PayneNation to discuss the EPA’s latest bid to stop the prospective Pebble Mine in Alaska before the project has a chance to be reviewed. Check out the interviews below.
  • India to overhaul its critical mineral strategy

    The Indian Express ran an excellent article this week on India’s efforts to develop a mineral strategy.  The piece gives a broad overview on the global context of the critical mineral mining environment from an Indian perspective. It points out that China not only accounts for more than 90 percent of global REE supply, but [...]

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