EPA: Mining Activity in Alaskan Watershed Harmful to Wildlife

392886 08: This undated photo shows a grizzly bear in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The Bush administration''s controversial plan to open the refuge to oil drilling was approved by the House of Representatives on August 2, 2001, but it faces a tough battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate. 
National Journal
Jan. 16, 2014, 2:09 a.m.

An En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency re­port ex­amin­ing the po­ten­tial en­vir­on­ment­al im­pacts of min­ing activ­ity in Alaska’s Bris­tol Bay Wa­ter­shed con­cluded that in­dus­tri­al-scale min­ing op­er­a­tions would en­danger sal­mon spe­cies and oth­er wild­life, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

“Our re­port con­cludes that large-scale min­ing poses risks to sal­mon and the tri­bal com­munit­ies that have de­pended on them for thou­sands of years,” Den­nis McLer­ran, EPA’s re­gion­al ad­min­is­trat­or in the Pa­cific North­w­est, said in a state­ment.

Van­couver-based North­ern Dyn­asty Min­er­als, a com­pany look­ing to build a cop­per and gold mine in the wa­ter­shed, im­me­di­ately dis­missed the de­cision as biased.

“We be­lieve EPA set out to do a flawed ana­lys­is,” Ron Thiessen, the com­pany’s CEO, said in a state­ment.

Re­pub­lic­an law­makers were also quick to slam the re­port.

“EPA is set­ting a dan­ger­ous pre­ced­ent by jus­ti­fy­ing its polit­ic­al pre­ju­dices on a flawed as­sess­ment based on hy­po­thet­ic­als,” Sen. Dav­id Vit­ter, R-La., Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber, said in a state­ment. “This is a very scary sig­nal that the EPA is send­ing to busi­nesses — that they are cap­able of and will­ing to kill a pro­ject be­fore an ap­plic­a­tion is even sub­mit­ted.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also cri­ti­cized the as­sess­ment, call­ing it pree­mpt­ive and un­ne­ces­sary, giv­en that North­ern Dyn­asty has not yet ap­plied for a per­mit to con­struct the pro­posed mine.

“If the EPA has con­cerns about the im­pact of a pro­ject, there is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to raise them — after a per­mit ap­plic­a­tion has been made, not be­fore,” Murkowski said in a state­ment.

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