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Sen. Murkowski: EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment Still Needs Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today commented on the peer review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed. The document summarizes the three-day peer review meeting in Anchorage in August.

“The peer review panel’s recommendations make it clear that the EPA has a lot of work left to do if the goal is to issue a scientifically-sound document,” Murkowski said. “I remain concerned that the agency has chosen to evaluate a hypothetical mine that does not reflect modern mining practices.”

An independent contractor facilitated the peer review, which was based on 14 “charge questions” put forth by the EPA. The report contains a number of recommendations, including asking the EPA to clarify the geographic scope and coverage of the assessment, consider adopting a broader range of mine scenarios, and incorporate mitigation measures.

“I’ve always believed that this assessment was seriously flawed. I appreciate the work done by the reviewers, but unless the EPA fixes the fundamental flaw of evaluating an unrealistic, straw-man argument instead of waiting for an actual application to be submitted, problems will remain,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans deserve a fair and unbiased environmental review of the Pebble project once a project description has been submitted. A preemptive veto by the EPA would make no more sense than a preemptive approval.”

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