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Senator Giessel calls EPA’s action “Federal Overreach on Steroids”

EPA moves to block development in southwest Alaska

JUNEAU – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is taking the first steps toward preventing development in southwest Alaska.  Unprecedented action has been taken by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy under the Clean Water Act to stop the proposed Pebble Mine. 

“This administrative veto, before the project has even applied for its state and federal permits is outrageous,” said Resources Chair Senator Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage Hillside/Turnagain Arm/N. Kenai).  “The EPA stated that their decision to proceed with this process is based on ‘scientific study.’ But how could the EPA appropriately and scientifically review this project before formal plans and permits are submitted?”

The Clean Water Act generally requires a permit under Section 404 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before any development can take place.  Now that the 404 (c) process has been initiated, the Army Corps cannot issue a permit for fill in wetlands or steams associated with mining the Pebble deposit until the EPA completes the 404(c) review process. 

“This decision isn’t just about one project, this decision is about our ability as a state to develop our resources.  If the EPA is successful in using the Clean Water Act to preempt development in Alaska, I have no doubt this will set a precedent for future actions against resource development in the Lower 48,” said Senator Giessel.  “Remember this proposed project is on our state land.”

The resource development project of the copper deposit is estimated to create 15,000 jobs and $18 billion in revenue through local, state and federal taxes.   Annual operating costs are estimated at nearly $1 billion.

“The economic situation in southwest Alaska is dire and the region is in desperate need of employment opportunities. This project could bring life back to these dying communities and actually help to preserve traditional ways of life.  In Alaska, resource development is about our people, our families and our future.  That’s why decisions affecting us must remain in the hands of Alaskans.  This latest action by the EPA is Federal overreach on steroids,” said Senator Giessel.

For more information, please contact Lindsay Williams in Senator Giessel’s office at 907-465-3623.

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