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Pebble CEO Calls EPA Process Rushed and Inadequate


Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively had the following comments regarding the release of the
Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment:

“As long‐time proponents of responsible resource development in Alaska, we have significant
concerns regarding the EPA’s approach to the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. We believe
that the EPA has rushed its assessment process, and that this is especially problematic in light
of the large size of the study area. We have taken several years and expended considerable
resources to study the ecosystem in a small area around the Pebble deposit, while the EPA has,
in only one year and with limited resources, completed a draft assessment in relation to an area
of approximately 20,000 square miles. We believe that this explains why the EPA’s work has
not yet approached the level of rigor and completeness required for a scientific assessment.
“Furthermore, we are concerned that the EPA may use this rushed process as the basis for an
unprecedented regulatory action against the Pebble Project. We believe it would be
unprecedented and entirely inappropriate for the EPA to take steps to stop our project before it
has been fully designed, before we have presented an environmental mitigation strategy
designed to protect the fish and water resources of the area, before we have completed an
economic benefits study and before we have submitted a permit application and started the
rigorous permitting process. Until we complete our work and submit an application under
NEPA, the EPA’s work as it relates to our project is based entirely on speculation.

“The Pebble deposit is located on State of Alaska lands that are open to mineral exploration and
development. As such, the State has expressed strong objection about the entire process the
EPA is undertaking in this area. At Statehood, the federal government granted Alaska access to
lands in order to develop an economy for the new state. Federal intrusions such as those
facilitated by the EPA’s watershed assessment initiative clearly strike at the heart of the
agreement between the state and the federal government, and could have a chilling effect on
future resource development investments in Alaska.

“Further, this entire process is particularly disappointing because it seems to directly conflict
with the stated goals of President Obama, who has said that U.S. government agencies need to
simplify and streamline permitting and regulatory processes to help the economy and create
jobs. This is an example of the Environmental Protection Agency doing exactly the opposite by
adding new hurdles to the rigorous and established regulatory process.

“It is worth noting that PLP has spent several years and expended significant resources studying
a substantially smaller land area surrounding Pebble, while the EPA’s limited time frame
allocated to studying natural resources in this vast area comes nowhere near providing the
science needed to adequately conduct their assessment. We certainly don’t question the
appropriate statutory role of the EPA in evaluating projects like the Pebble Project. In fact, we
voluntarily provided over 20,000 pages of detailed environmental studies to the EPA to assist
their understanding of this complex ecosystem and we are convinced the agency did not utilize
the information in a meaningful way due to the artificial short time frame they have used to
reach a conclusion. We do take strong exception to this misguided effort that steps outside of
the well‐established regulatory process to rush through this watershed assessment to
potentially reach pre‐ordained conclusions.

“Additionally, the draft watershed assessment is fundamentally flawed for the following

‐ the EPA has undertaken to study in one year a nearly 20,000 square mile area in
Southwest Alaska ‐ about the size of the states of Maryland and New Jersey combined ‐
that would need several years of diligent effort to achieve its stated goals;

‐ the EPA has attempted to assess the effects of a project that has not yet been finalized
or undergone the rigorous permitting process required by State and federal law;

‐ the EPA has prepared and distributed a report that does not live up to the agency’s own
standards for undertaking watershed assessments, as reflected in EPA guidance and
assessment activities in other U.S. jurisdictions. Specifically, the draft report: relies on a
hypothetical mining project with hypothetical environmental impacts; estimates
impacts resulting from only one stressor source (i.e. mining), notwithstanding Region 10
policy to address environmental risks “in a comprehensive, holistic fashion”; reflects an
unprecedented narrow focus on a single mining project and single policy option; and
improperly adds economic analysis, and then in a biased fashion.

“Many statewide business and trade associations as well as Alaska Native tribes and village
corporations have expressed similar concerns and objections about the EPA’s actions and have
asked the EPA to stop its work until a formal permit application is in front of the agency. The
investment uncertainties created by the EPA’s short‐sighted actions have the potential to
inhibit development projects not only throughout Alaska, but nationwide.”

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