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Congressional Committee Investigates EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

ARPN President Testifies on Use of Questionable Research and Calls for Review of Data

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Daniel McGroarty, American Resources Policy Network President, provided testimony today on Capitol Hill concerning the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, a major environmental study in Alaska.

“The problem with the Assessment has always been that EPA is preempting the established Federal permitting process to evaluate a hypothetical mine,” said McGroarty. “Every issue raised in the Assessment could easily be reviewed within the existing permitting process, and there is simply no need for the expensive, new “pre-permitting process” that the EPA has created here.”

McGroarty addressed the EPA’s use of scientific studies in the assessment, particularly those conducted by Dr. Ann Maest, formerly Managing Scientist for Stratus Consulting. As McGroarty noted in a letter to Senators Boxer and Vitter earlier this year, Dr. Maest publicly disavowed environmental research she had conducted in Ecuador that was used to win an $18 billion judgment against Chevron, calling her integrity into question.

Furthermore in June, on behalf of the Northwest Mining Association, the global water and environmental management firm Schlumberger published an analysis of “Kuipers, Maest et al. 2006,” one of the studies that forms the basis of the EPA’s assessment. The Schlumberger report could not replicate the hydrological data presented in the Kuipers/Maest study – a fundamental tenet of sound scientific research. It also found a ‘backward bias’ inherent in any hypothetical construct, noting that the Kuipers/Maest study draws on a ‘preponderance’ of case studies taken from mines that operated before the modern regulatory era.

“Does it constitute ‘sound science’ to argue against a proposed mine based on what happened at other mines operated to other standards — 20, 30 or 40 years ago?” said McGroarty. “Would we use such a backwards-biased yardstick to judge the safety of a new airplane? A new car? A new medicine?”

McGroarty called for EPA to conduct an independent and impartial investigation of the use of studies conducted by Maest, and cautioned against using the Assessment to prevent Pebble from entering the Federal permitting process.


The American Resources Policy Network is a non-profit education and public policy research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit americanresources.org.

Details on the Congressional Hearing: The U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science, Space & Technology, Subcommittee on Oversight. 2318 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515. “EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment – A Factual Review of a Hypothetical Scenario.” Aug 1, 2013 at 1:00pm:

ARPN Letter to Senators Boxer and Vitter concerning the use of studies conducted by Maest in the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment:

Schlumberger/Northwest Mining Association Analysis of Kuipers, Maest et al. 2006: http://www.nwma.org/pdf/NWMA%20public%20comments%20final%20june29%202013%20Bristol%20Bay%20with%20appendix.pdf

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, “A Potential Copper Bonanza Runs Afoul of the EPA,” By Daniel McGroarty: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324436104578580092566535574.html