10-17-17 Let’s Help EPA Right A Wrong, TODAY!

TODAY IS THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENT AND WE SHALL MAKE COMMENTING EASY FOR OUR READERS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!  -DH

Dear Friends:

This is about the State of Alaska’s right to lease land to the Pebble Partnership for exploration of minerals.  The federal EPA in an unprecedented move, “jumped the gun on the legal process”, and acted to deny the lessor of state land an opportunity to present its case — BEFORE IT HAD EVEN FILED THE FIRST PERMIT TO DEVELOP THE PROJECT!  Regardless of your position of the potential for a mining project in this particular case, we hope you will join us in urging the EPA to recant its gross violation of due process and restore the rule of law and constitutional rights in this matter.  Once the procedure is again on a legal track, proponents and opponents of the project can all have, “their day in court”, via the demanding, legal permitting process.

For those of you nervous about “commenting”, DON’T BE: Yes, if you wish to offer technical support for your position, by all means express it.  But if you are like us, feel free to simply express in your own words a “citizen opinion” to the EPA such as: “YOU MUST SUPPORT CONSTITUTIONAL DUE PROCESS FOR ALL PROJECTS AND REGULATORY PROCESSES, INCLUDING THE PEBBLE PARTNERSHIP PROJECT IN ALASKA”  –OR– “I URGE YOU TO WITHDRAW YOUR JULY 2014 PROPOSED DETERMINATION REGARDING THE PEBBLE DEPOSIT AREA.  (You could stop there or add a sentence or two, like…) THE EPA’S ACTION IN THIS CASE WAS A CLEAR OVERREACH OF ITS AUTHORITY, DAMAGES AMERICA’S RELIANCE ON THE RULE OF LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL DUE PROCESS AND IS AN UNJUSTIFIED ATTACK ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE STATE OF ALASKA.”

The public comment period will run through 7:59 p.m. TODAY, October 17, 2017.  Submit comments online: Reference Docket #EPA-R10-OW-2017-0369: http://www.regulations.gov, or Send an email to: ow-docket@epa.gov, include Docket #EPA-R10-OW-2017-0369 in the subject line.

Below you will find further information from our friends at the Resource Development Council for Alaska.  -dh


Action Alert: Support the EPA’s withdrawal of the Proposed Determination of the Pebble Deposit Area Overview:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposal to withdraw its July 2014 Proposed Determination on the Pebble Deposit Area. This proposed determination was a clear overreach and an attempt to assess the effects of a potential mining project, without the project plans.

In 2010, the EPA was petitioned to use its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to preemptively veto any dredge or fill permits in wetlands associated with mining and the Pebble Project in Southwest Alaska. Tribes closer to the project asked EPA to refrain from such action until a formal permit application has been submitted and the permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) initiated. Having never used its authority preemptively, the EPA decided instead to conduct a watershed assessment to help “inform its decision” on the issue. The EPA study began in February 2011, and completed the assessment on an area the size of West Virginia in less than one year. Previous watershed assessments conducted on smaller areas have taken years to complete.

The CWA does give the EPA authority to veto other agencies’ approval of permits, however, it is unprecedented that the EPA would administer this authority in advance of any permit application. Moreover, the agency has rarely used its veto authority and never in advance of permits being issued by other agencies.

The proposed determination is not based on actual mine plans. It focuses on the effects of a mining project that has not been proposed, and for which key engineering solutions, environmental safeguards, and mitigation measures have not been provided. This is a deeply flawed speculative approach.

The State of Alaska, many statewide business associations, including RDC, and Native village and tribal organizations in the area have opposed the EPA’s actions until there is a formal permit application to properly evaluate the project, and a thorough environmental impact statement is completed.

A copy of the proposed determination and Bristol Bay Final Report 2014 is available online at: www.epa.gov/bristolbay

Public meetings:

October 11 in Dillingham, 6:00-9:00 p.m., Dillingham Middle School Gym

October 12 in Iliamna, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Old Crowley Hangar, Iliamna Airport

 

Additional points to consider in your comments:

  • A preemptive decision, prior to permit or project application and completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, is unacceptable, whether it be approval or denial of any project in any industry.
  • The proposed determination ignored existing processes, undermining agency responsibilities on both the state and federal level. Further, the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Water Act to preemptively block development in the absence of a permit application.
  • The EPA must withdraw its proposed determination because it was based on an untested, ad hoc analysis that is not sanctioned by the CWA or NEPA. Once the NEPA process is initiated, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement based on project plans.
  • Any potential 404(c) actions against the Pebble Project are premature. The project has not yet been finalized and no permit applications – including detailed plans and environmental mitigation strategies – have been submitted to government agencies, nor has the NEPA process been initiated. As a result, the current assessment and any preemptive action would deprive government agencies and stakeholders of the specific information, science, and rigorous reviews that would come out of the multi-year NEPA process.
  • Every project, no matter the size or location, should have an opportunity to be reviewed under existing legal processes. In the case of mining, there are more than 60 major permits and hundreds more from local, state, and federal agencies that must be successfully obtained. If the process determines a project as designed cannot protect the environment and other resources, it will not advance. The process will not permit one industry or resource to advance at the expense of another.
  • The House Oversight Committee in 2015 concluded that “EPA’s use of a preemptive veto (at Pebble) was unprecedented and without a legal basis.” The Committee described EPA’s course of action as “an unprecedented change in the agency’s process for regulating resource and development projects,” and called on EPA to “cease all preemptive 404(c) activity” to allow for the normal permitting process to take place.
  • Any 404(c) action outside the existing permitting process would be an extreme case of federal overreach and an assault on Alaska sovereignty. The Pebble deposit is not located on federal land, nor inside a refuge or park. It is located on state land designated for mineral exploration. The State of Alaska depends on the responsible development of natural resources on its lands to diversify and support its economy.
  • Until an application is filed describing the project in detail and an Environmental Impact Statement is completed, the EPA is prematurely determining adverse impacts based on hypothetical assessments and inapplicable modeling.
  • The fate of a project, including Pebble, cannot be rationally decided without consideration of the full social, economic and environmental impacts of the project. This information will be developed through the rigorous NEPA process.
  • The actions of the EPA undermine existing regulatory processes and set a dangerous precedent for future projects. If the EPA preemptively stops projects before they enter the permitting process, any large project could be at risk. Preemptive action by the EPA could become a new tool opponents use to stop projects, or at a minimum, introduce significant uncertainty and delay, chilling Alaska’s business climate.

Comment Deadline is TODAY, October 17, 2017

 

5 Comments

  1. Bill October 17, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Please lift the mining ban on Pebble Beach. Such a venture is set to restore the Alaskan Economy and provide thousands of much needed high paying jobs to the good hard working people of Alaska. Also, the U.S. is in dire need for the minerals that are desired from this mining operation. Pebble Beach is not in peril because the mining operations will be maintained beyond a 90 mile proximity. Allow people to regain hope in the EPA once again rather than providing them with more reason to hate such an organization. Please lift the ban and do not pay heed to the programmed robots that send thousands of messages on behalf of ignorant and uninformed environmentalist!

    • wpnorthern October 17, 2017 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Beautifully stated, Bill. You are a great Alaskan. Dave

  2. Scott Strand October 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    It was a travesty that the EPA preemptively vetoed a project BEFORE there was a permit application submitted. It is time we follow the rule of law and treat all applications equally.

  3. Bernelie (Bunny) Chong October 19, 2017 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    From: Bunny and Al Chong [mailto:alaskanchongs@acsalaska.net]
    Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:19 PM
    To: ‘ow-docket@epa.gov’
    Subject: EPA PROJECTS & PROCESSES MUST BE SUCCESSFUL FOR ALASKA!!!!!!

    I START BY SAYING I HOPE YOU CONSIDER MY REQUEST AND DON’T IGNORE ME BECAUSE I AM NOT AN EPA EXPERT. I was born and raised in Hawaii and landed in Alaska to become a Soldotna resident since 2002. Ever since then. . . my husband and I have learned the benefits of being an Alaskan resident and we have SUPPORTED as much of the processes that have come up to determine the continued GROWTH of Alaska. One of the GREAT departments we have been HONORED to continuously check on the actions and results that helped US be grateful that there is staff AND a company that CARES ABOUT ALASKA. . . and that company is the NORTHERN GAS PIPELINES.

    I AM NOT AN OIL EXPERT . . . BUT I AM A CITIZEN THAT FOLLOWS THE EPA PROJECTS AND PROCESSES . . . INCLUDING THE PEBBLE PARTNERSHP PROJECT IN ALASKA. I’m happy and EXCITED when there are successes in and FOR Alaska ……and Northern Gas Pipelines was one company to rely on.

    SO PLEASE …. My husband and I have been discussing it with our Senior Citizens and other friends here on the Kenai Peninsula and we ALL AGREE that we HAVE TO URGE you to WITHDRAW your July 2014 PROPOSED DETERMINATION REGARDING THE PEBBLE DEPOSIT AREA. As I mentioned above. . . YOU MUST SUPPORT CONSTITUTIONAL DUE PROCESS FOR ALL PROJECTS AND REGUATORY PROCESSES, INCLUDING THE PEBBLE PARTNERSHIP PROJECT IN ALASKA.

    I worked for Soldotna’s SBDC since 2002 and retired effective March 1, 2016 so I know you don’t give me any VALUE in speaking my comments since I don’t have knowledge about your super Oil Industry but. . .think about it if you really care = The EPA’s ACTION IN THIS CASE WAS A CLEAR OVERREACH OF ITS AUTHORITY….DAMAGES AMERICA’S RELIANCE ON THE RULE OF LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL DUE PROCESS. . . .AND IS AN =UNJUSTIFIED ATTACK ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE STATE OF ALASKA.” DO YOU ALL REALLY WANT TO DO THIS???? PLEASE . . . DO NOT CONTINUE THIS UNJUSTIFIED ATTACK ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF ALASKA.

    Bernelie (Bunny) Chong
    Soldotna Resident since 2002

Leave A Comment

About the Author:

Dave Harbour, publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines, is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, a Commissioner Emeritus of NARUC, NARUC's Official Representative to IOGCC and Vice Chairman of NARUC's Gas Committee. He served as Gas Committee Chairman of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners. He also served as commissioner of the Anchorage Bicentennial Commission and the Anchorage Heritage Land Bank Commission.He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree: English, at Colorado State University, a Master of Science Degree: Communications-Journalism at Murray State University and graduated from Utility Regulatory School for Commissioners at Michigan State University. He served as a Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at Alaska Pacific University, taught bank marketing classes at the University of Alaska and was an English teacher at Los Alamos High School.Harbour served in ranks of Private - Captain during a 4-year assignment with the Army in Korea, Idaho, Georgia and Fort Meade and received the Meritorious Service Medal among other commendations.Harbour is also a past Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, the Alaska Oil & Gas Association Government Affairs Committee and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He is a past President of the American Bald Eagle Foundation, Consumer Energy Alliance-Alaska and Common Sense for Alaska.He was instrumental in founding the American Bald Eagle Research Foundation, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, the Downtown Anchorage Association, and Arctic Power.He also served as CEO of several small Alaska organizations, including the Anchorage Parking Authority and Action Security, Inc. Harbour is also Chairman Emeritus of the Alaska Oil & Gas Congress and past President of the Alaska Press Club.Harbour's wife, Nancy, is a professional, performing arts administrator and his three boys, Todd, Benjamin and William work in the fields of environmental management, energy marketing and medicine.