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Senate hearing puts price tag on EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

The Daily Caller Foundation’s Michael Bastasch, who has consistently offered thorough coverage of some of the most pressing mineral- and mining-related issues, last week took a closer look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s spending on the agency’s controversial Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

According to Bastasch, during a recent U.S. Senate hearing, “Ken Kopocis, President Obama’s nominee for assistant administrator for the EPA’s water office, said that the agency had spent $2.4 million in external costs,” implying that the actual cost is even higher, as the figure does not take into account internal EPA cost, for which Kopocis was unable to provide numbers.

This is particularly relevant, as the assessment appears to be part of a concerted effort to preemptively derail a promising mining project, and was conducted in spite of the fact that no permit requests had been filed or substantive plans had been submitted. These figures surface on the heels of previous reports of lavish EPA spending of $169,381 on a peer review meeting held this summer on the assessment (which comes out to $10,586 per person).

A project like Pebble isn’t significant simply for the thousands of jobs directly at stake; rather, the outcome of a preemptive veto decision would affect similar future efforts at the potential cost of tens or hundreds of thousands — even millions of jobs. It all starts with a single project, a single metal; Bristol Bay is just the beginning.