Biden EPA kills Pebble — again

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The Environmental Protection Agency has once again killed the Pebble mining project in Southwest Alaska, preemptively banning a project that has been a political football for decades.

The EPA’s Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox made the preemptive determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to prohibit and restrict the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed as disposal sites for discharges of dredged or fill material associated with developing what’s known as the Pebble Deposit or any other similar project on State-owned lands in the area. 

“This is another gut-punch from the Biden Administration to Alaskan workers,” said Rick Whitbeck, Alaska state director for Power The Future. “The EPA has again chosen China over America, fear over facts and slimy politics over science with its actions today. They’ve completely ignored Pebble’s clean Final Environmental Impact Statement – issued by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2020 after years of review – noting that the mine and Bristol Bay fishery can co-exist without threat to the salmon.” 

Today’s actions “not only set back the green energy movement they claim to support, it withholds over 300 full-time jobs in an area with some of the highest unemployment in the nation,” Whitbeck said.

The politics of the mine began during the Obama Administration, when the EPA preemptively vetoed the proposed project before agencies even conducted environmental impact studies. Later, the Trump Administration allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do an environmental analysis. The Corps found in 2020 that the mine would have no measurable effect on salmon in Bristol Bay. But with Donald Trump Jr. coming out against the mine, the Corps rejected Pebble’s permit in late 2020, after the November election.

The Pebble site, on state land set aside for mining, has the potential to be one of the biggest suppliers of gold and copper. Over $1 billion has been invested in exploration, engineering, and studies throughout the decades.

The EPA’s decision was not unexpected. Sen. Lisa Murkowski immediately released her statement supporting the decision.

“EPA’s final determination should mark the end of Pebble, which was already rejected by the agency in 2020 and does not have the access, permits, financing, public support, or disposal sites needed to proceed. As Senator Stevens once said, it is the ‘wrong mine in the wrong place,’ and does not deserve to move forward—for good reason,” she said.

“To be clear: I oppose Pebble. To be equally clear: I support responsible mining in Alaska, which is a national imperative. This determination must not serve as precedent to target any other project in our state and must be the only time EPA ever uses its veto authority under the Clean Water Act in Alaska,” Murkowski said.

“The Biden administration has now further sealed Pebble’s fate. But they have a responsibility to advance other mining projects in Alaska to help reduce our foreign dependence and prevent looming shortages. Going forward, I expect the President and his team to step up and meet that responsibility,” Murkowski said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration had a different response, one that emphasized process and state’s rights:

“EPA’s veto sets a dangerous precedent. Alarmingly, it lays the foundation to stop any development project, mining or non-mining, in any area of Alaska with wetlands and fish-bearing streams,” Dunleavy said. “My Administration will stand up for the rights of Alaskans, Alaska property owners, and Alaska’s future.”

“The State of Alaska has a responsibility to develop its resources to provide for itself and its people,” Dunleavy said. “Alaska does resource development better than any other place on the planet, and our opportunities to show the world a better way to extract our resources should not be unfairly preempted by the federal Government.”

Responding to EPA’s primary concern about protecting the fish and fish habitat, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang said, “Alaska’s Title 16 permitting process would ensure protection of fish and fish habitat in the Bristol Bay area. But these statutory protections have been flouted by EPA, choked off before Alaska’s expert habitat and fish biologists had the opportunity to weigh in.”

“The precedent set by this action will percolate throughout the investment community,” said John Boyle, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner. “EPA is violating the rights guaranteed by the Alaska Statehood Act through the capricious exercise of its authority, robbing Alaskans of a multi-billion dollar asset on State lands that were specifically selected for their mineral potential without affording the project the predictable, fair, and science-based permitting process that all projects deserve.”

“EPA’s draconian decision—taken under a Biden Administration that so desperately wants to see domestic development of the natural resources needed to support our Nation’s renewable energy goals—is dumbfounding,” said Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune. “This decision will drive development not only out of Alaska but out of the country, straight into third world countries where little care is given to environmental protection, environmental justice is non-existent, and child labor is exploited.”

Calling EPA’s decision “legally indefensible,” Attorney General Treg Taylor stated, “The precedent set by this preemptive veto—if valid—should alarm all permit applicants, investors, and States who wish to retain their traditional land- and resource-management authority. If EPA can rely on undefined terms and subjective standards not based in science to short circuit the Corps’ appeals process and the State’s permitting process here—it can do it anywhere.”  

The Governor noted several flaws in the veto’s supporting documents. One is the veto’s prematurity: project plans are still working through the established permitting process, which the Army Corps of Engineers oversee.

At this juncture, Alaska’s State agencies—the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources—have not yet weighed in through the State permitting process, the State’s 401 certification process, or through State input as a landowner. 

The veto disregards the Alaska Statehood Act, violates the Clean Water Act, and departs from basic scientific methodology. Of particular concern is EPA’s failure to demonstrate why the Army Corps of Engineers was wrong when it reviewed the same scientific data but arrived at the opposite conclusion—that the proposed mine plan “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers or result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”

In 2022, the State of Alaska was joined by Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in a letter of opposition filed concurrently with the Governor’s. “Decisions like these,” the States emphasized, “throw a wild card into the entire 404 permitting process.” 

Additionally, united by a desire for greater predictability in the 404 permitting process, the Western States Water Council, representing 18 states and accountable to the Western Governors’ Association, passed a resolution urging EPA to adhere to established procedure, meaningfully consult with affected States, and adequately document its rationale before exercising the 404(c) veto power, the Governor’s Office said.

63 COMMENTS

  1. Why should natives have good paying jobs? Why should natives have a better quality of life?

    The bigotry of the left is stunning.

    But it’s not just keeping the natives in borderline poverty. It’s about the ongoing desire to cripple our way of life while breaking the people effected.

    The rich progressives will never feel the pain of these decisions. We will. And that’s the point.

    Eliminate competition for resources they want by denying said resources for the rest of us.

    If people die or live in crap, especially if they aren’t white privileged Karens, so much the better.

    • I thought it was the local natives that spent decades protesting the mine. Not “white Karen’s”.. I think it was “native Karen’s”.

    • Masked; President Trump killed the pebble prospect by initially approving then reversing Army Corp of Engineers permits which would be necessary to allow the foreign owned venture to go forward, plus Native corporation owned land denied a would be road access not to mention former mining companies Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Mitsubishi, Quantum Minerals all mining companies, abandoned the prospect. Parent company Northern Dynasty of Pebble Partnership has never developed a mine before.
      All open pit mines of the far North shut down in the winter plus specialized equipment brings in they’re own personal., What jobs?
      Today is a big win for Alaska, food for the world, and the worlds largest Red Salmon spawning grounds are safe for now. However, the fight will continue.

    • Why should they live in poverty? We’ve all read and know about the history books here right? When I was in the Southwest, anyone who had a boat was against pebble. I once knew a kid that dropped out of high school is junior year. When questioned why doesn’t he come back to school, he said he made $75,000 in 3 months. Back then that was more than a principal made all year. It was hard to argue his point. Those that don’t have a boat or work on one are four pebble because they want higher paying jobs. They can go to the slope or other places where there’s construction and goings on and make big money but they’d rather do it closer to home so they can come home on the weekends. Most natives that I knew weren’t against conservative wildlife preservation. Their motto was drill baby drill.

  2. Of course the pResident’s administration killed it.
    .
    It would have created jobs, improved the economic standing of thousands, and provide the needed materials for the future. Needed materials for the green new delusion that his very administration is pushing.
    .
    But, you cannot suppress/oppress the masses if they have wealth and options. Best to stop that from happening.

    • Don’t forget the former President’s administration also killed it, except it was because his kid liked to pay exorbitant amounts of cash he took from the former President’s supporters to head out that way to kill animals for his photo collection. Sorry for the inconvenient reminder.

      • And Obama before him, all these Presidents keep killing Pebble but it’s not dead…what’s that tell you?

        • Steve-O: Northern Dynasty has never developed a mine before and former partners Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Mitsubishi, and First Quantum Minerals have all bailed, the prospect is a loser and fails to explain how wet open pit mining does not damage the most pristine natural red salmon spawning grounds in the world. The burden of proof is on the intrusive industry and not the host industry.
          Whats that tell you?

          • I cannot speak for Steve, but…
            what difference does the experience of the proposing company have to compliance with environmental laws?
            What difference does the number of partners in the partnership make to the environmental laws?
            .
            In fact, if you knew anything at all about the laws stemming from NEPA, you would realize the bar to performing an environmental impact study, and getting the permits has almost nothing to do with whether the project is financially viable. The Pebble partnership has demonstrated several times in the past that they can proceed with the project if proper permits are received. Whether you think it is financially viable or not is irrelevent.

          • Jo,
            It tells me you don’t know what you are talking about. When the large mining companies were involved the water carriers for Russian and Chinese interests complained about large mining companies being involved, now that they aren’t involved they complain about them not being involved…nothing new here, some people are never happy.

            Read Pebbles plan, they’ve met the burden of proof according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA and those aligned with Russian and Chinese interests have no answer so they don’t even try.

  3. Duh… why should we open any mines? We can all just get government jobs and pass emails back forth. Its a good living. The government will take care of everything. We can trust them.

    All for the best in the best of all possible worlds—Pangloss in Candide, Voltaire.

    • Actually, I understand there are thousands of Silicon Valley (former) tech workers that should “learn to mine.” This could help them out massively…

  4. An extremely poor decision by EPA and supported by Murkowski who should be a champion for this state, but quite obviously isn’t.

  5. Where is BIden supposed to get all those rare metals necessary for building electric car batteries now? China? Smooth move. President Xi is very pleased with Biden’s decision.

  6. Best money China and all the Sore Oh’s foundations could spend it on. Non profits to banter and rally against or get ballots counted in your favor to shut down your competition. Coke/Pepsi , McDonalds/ Burger King are truly envious.

  7. John Shivley (D), now gets what he voted for. Maybe, he should’ve come to his senses and voted for “Orange Man” and certainly changed sides? Well, I’m sure he can kiss goodbye his bonus.

  8. “The veto disregards the Alaska Statehood Act, violates the Clean Water Act, and departs from basic scientific methodology.”

    The Feds have never cared about the Alaska Statehood Act, both state and federal legislators violate their own laws all the time, and basic scientific methodology has long been disregarded for political and social reasons… like a baby is not human till it sucks in air, a man can decide to become a woman at a whim, or unorganized dead material can randomly produce highly complex living organisms. This is not news. We live in clown world because people will do anything to justify their sin in their own mind including denying basic scientific principles. This will only get worse until such time as people start basing their actions on Gods standards and not peoples own sinful desires. The only answer is a personal heart change, not the next election, better laws, or reorganized political parties.

    On the bright side, the light is so much more noticeable as the darkness around us gets so much darker….

      • Well Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, James Clerk Maxwell, Gregor Mendel, Bernhard Riemann, Isaac Newton, Charles Townes, Willard Gibbs, Carl Gauss, Charles Barkla, George Washington Carver, Francis Collins, Ernest Walton, JJ Thomson, Blaise Pascal, Lord Kelvin, Werner Heisenberg, Humphry Davy, John Ambrose Fleming, Samuel Morse, among others have seemed to manage it.

        “I have a fundamental belief in the bible as the word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily” – Isaac Newton
        “I had the intention of becoming a theologian… but now I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for the heavens declare the glory of God” – Johannes Kepler
        “The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics” – Galileo
        “How exceedingly fine is the godlike work of the best and greatest artist” – Nicolaus Copernicus
        “Science brings men nearer to God” – Louis Pasteur
        “An outlook… at the vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator” – Wernher von Braun

        Seeing that God created science then how could the scientific method and that supernatural God not be compatible? They are inseparable in fact. These great scientists saw it but even a consensus among scientists doesn’t make truth. Only God is the author of truth, whether or not you or I see it. To look at the vast complexity of our DNA, the organization, the information, its workings… and still deny that an intelligent maker was responsible, but instead say it was nothing but a cold, lifeless, random universe that caused it to accidently fall together is beyond sheer madness; it is a willful turning from the truth.

      • Once again, Lucinda demonstrates what a total child she really is. Mocking, when she clearly does not understand.
        .
        There is nothing that prevents a religious person from following the scientific method. In fact, ghost hunters follow the scientific method.
        .
        But… I thought you were a “scientist.” You have made that claim in the past. Yet… here you are, clearly demonstrating that you have no idea, ZERO idea whatsoever what the scientific method is.

      • Pretty simple actually. Even the Pope has a observatory in Arizona. Here it is in a nutshell, The Big bang theory was day one on God’s calendar. Now I don’t know how long a calendar is, because the Bible was written by men. Somewhere down the line he created beings. Some of those beings got smart and figured out how to clone. Our planets population that like they came from Mars was created by some of those folks. Ask yourself why we get cataracts from exposure to ultraviolet light? If we were on Mars, there’s less of that so it doesn’t damage our eyes as much as on Earth. You can believe in both supernatural and science, they interact with each other.

  9. I would challenge the author of this article to present a more balanced explanation of this decision, as well as projections for fifty years from now that may have not been considered or noted here.

    My sister, a F&G biologist who taught at UAA, studied the stomach contents of birds for research of seabirds along the south central coastal areas accessible only by plane, and hiking e.g. puffins. As a mountaineer, she lost her life on ascent of one of the highest peaks in the Chugach Range a few decades ago, and the only positive words we could say about anything related to her death, was “thank God she died without ever hearing about the Exxon Valdez”. I’m sure that there are many old-timers still around that recall that man-made biological disaster.

    • And yet the predicted environmental apocalypse predicted by the left never occurred. That stretch of water is doing nicely.

      Did you sister have a car? Use heating oil? Use anything plastic? Was her death due in any part from her refusal to use safer, more effective hiking and climbing gear made from petroleum?

      The problem with your post is the balance you seem to want is driven by emotion, not based on fact. Therefore, the balance you want isn’t achievable because the bar is what your emotions want it to be

    • Mrs. N. Sorry about your sister.
      If the state sues on behalf of foreign owned Northern Dynasty and against BB Fisherman, I will start or join a counter claim.
      I like your posts 😉

  10. If we lose the rights to State land and our resources I guess we go back to being a Territory. Perhaps we can get a grant to teach people to dance and weave baskets.

  11. The current Congressional delegation has done a lot to kill Pebble – probably more than the current President. They must be so proud.

    • 65% of Alaska voters supported Ballot Measure 4 in 2014. The major players already walked away from this project. People like Whitbeck and the NRDC are still trying to squeeze a nickel out of it.

  12. China Joe (or more accurately, China Joe’s deep state handlers) take yet another action, in a long and consistent line of them, to undermine and destroy liberty, prosperity and security in the USA.
    .
    I wonder, do usurper Bai-Den’s Chinese overlords pay him by the piece, or does he receive a set annual stipend from them for his actions to consistently and progressively destroy this country?

    • Bristol Bay is currently dead man walking. It will be the last viable commercial fishery in the state. I give it less than a decade before it is gone. And mining has nothing to do with its demise.

      What is going on? Competition from fish farming – onshore, offshore, genetically altered fish (aka Lisa’s frankenfish), and most recently, vat-grown salmon. The farmers already own over 75% of the worldwide marketplace, and that was before the genetically altered stuff or vat grown comes online commercially. The statewide ban on fish farming only protected commfish from learning how to compete in the worldwide marketplace.

      Mining and fish live quite nicely together, even under the old environmental rules. Kennicott did not destroy the Copper River fishery. 3 mines in and around Juneau (at least one of them still operating) did not destroy all fishing around Juneau. Been there. Done that. Your concern is overblown and unfounded. Cheers –

      • agimarc; Kennicott was a hard rock tunnel mine on the side of a mountain not wet lands, plus the copper ore was transported by Copper River Railroad to Cordova then by steamship to Tacoma smelters to be processed, no earthen dam, no acid generated sulfides.
        Pebble would have a series of open pits at ground zero of the red salmon spawning grounds.

        • One example of how it could work is if you take a look at the Molly mine outside of Leadville Colorado. It’s a tributary of the Colorado River. They’ve been doing it right for a hundred years.

  13. Leave it to the Biden Administration to use the exact same illegal method that was used during the Obama Administration. This is nothing more than the Russian and Chinese ecoterrorism groups using the administrative state to try and preemptively block competition, and it’s not surprising that the leftists in power use the same tactics over and over again. All this does is generate revenue for the ecoterrorists, keep the administrative state employed, and force the private sector to pay for costly unnecessary litigation.

    • Steve; You are inccorect. President Trump denied the necessary permits through Army Corp of Engineers thus killing the mine.
      Todays EPA decision was icing on the cake. Bristol Bay spawning grounds will not be dug up 😉
      There are thousands of mines in Alaska, I worked 3 of them, after studying the pebble plan, this 3rd Gen. Alaskan decided against it 😉

      • Yep,
        Trump killed it, berore that Obama killed it, and now Biden killed it, yet it’s still not dead…weird how that works.

        Bristol Bay is made up of many, many rivers. Bristol Bay spawning ground were never going to be dug up. A small tributary creek of one of the many many rivers would have been impacted which would have had a negligible impact on Bristol Bay salmon, read the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental analysis…something the EPA obviously did not do.

      • Precisely which Pebble Plan did you study? The one the EPA created out of whole cloth to justify killing the mine, or the one the Corps of Engineers approved? Cheers –

          • Yeppers. I even know which one Ted didn’t like, which one the Army Corps approved, and which non-existent one the EPA just turned down. Interestingly enough, it really depends on which plan you are talking about. Been a lot of them in the last 30 years, but you already know that, don’t you? Or do you? Cheers –

      • “Ad hominem is a notoriously weak logical argument. And is usually used to distract the focus of a discussion – to move it from an indefensible point and to attack the opponent.
        ~ Lord Aquitainus Attis ~ Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher”
        No conspiracy theories here, I guess you haven’t heard about the Russian and Chinese funding of ecoterroist groups, or do you simply disregard the information since the ends justify the means?

  14. The real problem is the antiquated and wasteful methods of mining. Until they adopt more modern technological tools instead of removing the whole mountain, mining companies will always be restricted. Developing robotic mining would be a start. Until mining techniques stop laying waste upon the environment, mining will not be able to co-exist with salmon fisheries and other needed food resources.

  15. I find it interesting that the input of fisherman who rely on salmon from Bristol bay is not included in the article. Perhaps because they view the potential loss of the fishery if the mining operation screws up. And, we all know that mining companies are stewards of the environment.

    • Where are the Fisherman said: “And, we all know that mining companies are stewards of the environment.”

      Yeah, just like commfish, as demonstrated by the crashing king runs statewide. Cheers –

  16. Perfect, protect the fish from mineral extraction while allowing foreign interests to harvest them unchecked. The natives loose, either way. There will never be a fishery again in Alaska until we have a different administration.

  17. Pebble mine was never going to happen nor should it ever happen. Alaskas fisheries are the gift that will keep on giving for Generations. Ted Stevens was right that Bristol Bay was the worst place in the world to put a gigantic, toxic and destructive copper mine. Conservatives need to care more about the environment of the state and remember that economic growth and development at the expense of our beautiful state is not worth it.

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