Dunleavy poised to sue EPA over Pebble preemptive veto

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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy earlier this year called on EPA Region 10 to withdraw its proposed action to prohibit the development of the Pebble deposit in the Bristol Bay area.

EPA Region 10’s administrator Casey Sixkiller didn’t listen.

Instead, he recommended that Environmental Protection Agency put a nail in mining’s coffin in Alaska by vetoing a permit before it is even issued. EPA now has 60 days to make a final decision, and Dunleavy is indicating that he will sue because this is state-owned land, not federal property.

If finalized, this action sets a dangerous precedent, Dunleavy’s officials said. If EPA can preemptively veto one project, it can do it to any project.

“It vetoes a permit that has not been issued and imposes a blanket prohibition on development over 309 square miles of Alaska-owned land. It lays the foundation to stop any development project, mining or nonmining, in any area of Alaska with wetlands and fish-bearing streams,” his office said.

“The State of Alaska has the duty, under our constitution, to develop its resources to the maximum in order to provide for itself and its people, so it’s important that any and all opportunities be explored in furtherance of this idea,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The recent decision on the Pebble mine, which is solely located on State land, is the wrong decision. The State of Alaska does resource development better than any other place on the planet and I challenge others to prove that wrong. Our opportunities to show the world a better way to develop our resources should not be unfairly pre-empted by the Biden administration under a solely political act. This sets a very troubling precedent for the State and the country. If this goes unchallenged, this issue will become precedent-setting, potentially for other states as well.”

“This is an incredible power for a federal agency—staffed by unelected officials, unaccountable to Alaskans—to have,” said Jason Brune, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. 

The governor pointed out flaws in the agency’s supporting documents. 

One is that the veto is acting on a permit that has not been granted. 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 also 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.”

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 Governor’s Office wrote, “throw a wild card into the entire 404 permitting process.” 

30 COMMENTS

  1. The EPA needs to be dismantled and its staff investigated.

    The same goes for much of the Imperial Federal Government.

    • Masked; Army Cor. of Engineers denied necessary permits,
      President Trump said no on pebble.
      Preserving BB spawning grounds is a conservative value.
      Even if pebble were allowed, Alaska would get 6% of the net profits (Squat), after state expenses 0.
      All wet pit mines this far north shut down for the winter, 6 months.
      Modern mines hire few people, and mining companies bring in equipment with they’er own people.
      Congress is holding hearings on why Northern Dynasty lied about the size of the mine., and there is more.

      • Thanks for some facts joe. Probly won’t sway masked cuz of his allegiance to some hard to define anti federal government ideology.

      • President Trump said no because Donny Jr. cried about his fishing holes. For once it’s good to see the governor take a stand.

  2. The Federal Government is trying to gain control over all land, including State and Private land, The EPA has been claiming powers that have not been subjected to Congressional oversight or the courts. This must be strongly opposed at all levels. Hopefully our new Congressperson will stand with us.

    • The federal government is NOT trying to control state and private land. You want that to be true cuz it would bolster your conspiracy theories.

  3. The EPA needs to be dismantled. Perhaps in the early days it had good intent but, like so many other government agencies, it has been corrupted and weaponized by Liberal Democrats. Unelected officials wielding way too much power like we see with the CDC. Go Dunleavy.

  4. At first glance I thought pebble would be a good idea having worked 3 mines myself and going on to commercial fishing as many young people do being born and raised in Seward AK.
    However after studying the pebble plan have concluded that pebble with its earthen dam and 186 square miles of open pit not 5 square miles and they will dredge out every inch, would be a disaster to the largest spawning grounds of red salmon in the world.
    Even former pebble partners bailed, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Mitsubishi, First Quantum Minerals plus several investors, Black Rock, Canter Fitzgerald and others.
    The problem here is, nobody wants to look at the pebble plan before forming an opinion including Dunleavy.
    All earthen dams seep breach in wet climes. Major breech’s like Mt Polley mine in BC Canada, a disaster.
    President Trump said no through the Army Corps. of engineers denying necessary permits. The vast majority of Alaskans don’t want it.
    So my message to foreign owned Northern Dynasty, ”Stay the hell off pebble creek”.

    • Joe,
      Your claim that Pebble would be a 186 square mile open pit mine is absurd and completely unrealistic. The largest open pit mine on the face of the earth is only about 10 square miles, has been in operation since the 1800’s and is only a fraction of what you continue to claim Pebble would be. Obviously claiming something would be almost 40 times larger than it would plays well with ignorant people.

      • Oh, you again. You are incorrect., Pebble was touted as potentially the worlds largest mine. Look at the pebble plan, study issues before you start throwing around stupid stories., how long have you lived in Alaska? I’m tired of you 😉

        • We know that the largest open pit mine in the world is about 5 miles long by 2 miles wide, that’s about 10 square miles in area.

          To create an open pit mine to cover an area 186 square miles in size you would need to dig a pit 31 miles long by 6 miles wide.

          What plan are you reading that says they are going to build a 186 square mile open pit mine?

        • Joe you need to get out more and see what’s going on in the world. I’m afraid you have been hiding in anchorage too long and have lost touch with reality. Have you ever been to a large mine?

          • Lore; I was director and narrator of the Goodness Bay Mining Company’s platinum mining documentary called ”Paydirt in Platinum” which was a pro mining film where Grandfather worked as a engineer on the 97 Bucket dredge, a very large mine that sold to military WW11 effort. He also made motion picture and B&W stills put into the film.
            Mrs. Crockett has a copy at AK mining association.
            Pebble was stoped by Trump through the AC of Engineers permitting process so even if EPA approved their permits, the proposed mine would not be allowed. Now with Biden at the reins, still a no go.
            Thanks for asking 😉

  5. While you’re at it Governor, when is Alaska going to drop the ESG investment companies like Blackrock from our Permanent Fund portfolio?

    EPA is the worst of the worst in government (well, maybe behind the FBI and DOJ), but these Environmental-Social-Governance fanatics are doing far more damage to Alaska’s economy with their no-growth, zero-carbon agenda. And yet, as of its latest report, the Permanent Fund is still supporting that madness with more than $172,000,000 invested in Blackrock.

  6. I do not support the pebble mine. But this action that the fed is doing is outrageous, if the parameters are factual. On that I support the governor for this action plan.

  7. Good for Dunleavy to push back against another egregious overreach from Biden’s federal government brownshirts. Let the permit process run according to law, not a politically driven cancellation of a project that could provide much of the critical minerals we need, and could produce with more environmental controls than anywhere else.

  8. We hunt for moose and caribou. Meat eaters. Could care less about fish, especially salmon. We need the minerals. Jobs. And raw materials for snowgos, outboard motors, four-wheelers, cellphones, cable tv, and fishing boats. Build Pebble.

    • Generally, in Alaska, if you’re against salmon, you’re against Alaska. And specifically, I don’t give a rip about your meat eating needs as a reason to destroy the best salmon fishery on the planet. Go eat a hot dog.

      • Lucinda has a very mean streak. I roll with the Mr. Tookalook. I could care less about your view of salmon, Lucinda. As a life-long Native Alaskan, your views don’t mean squat to me.

        Alaska fishermen are a bunch of crybabies. They whine when they don’t catch fish, then blame it on others. Their hands are out waiting for government assistance. Their boats don’t work unless the miners keep digging out the minerals needed to process the finished goods, like marine engines, electronics and fuel to run the entire boat.

  9. From Earthjustice (hardly a bastion of support for development): “As proposed, the Pebble Mine project would entail mining a pit over a mile long, a mile wide and 200 meters deep” That’s a footprint of 2 square miles, not 10, and not 186.
    The Pebble Mine situation calls to mind a time from oh, say 80 – 100 years ago: Substitute “Washington DC” for “Seattle Salmon Interests” and once again, Alaska is sought to be owned by outsiders. Unfortunately, the outside interests are now a conglomerate of big fish, big government, “where’s my handout” residents, and “development = damnation” greenies that, in all likelihood, cannot be stopped. The fishing industry wants everything their way, but also wants everyone else to pony up when prices are low. Must be nice.

    • CRL; You are incorrect, the mineral rights to 186 square miles will all be dredged, and I mean every square inch, then there are the mineral rights of other claim owners around the perimeter, that will be dredged also 😉

      • Now they are dredging in an open pit mine? An open pit mine that is almost 40 times bigger than the worlds largest open pit mine…they are dredging it? I thought you knew about mines and how they operate Joe?

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