Obama Tool of Tyranny Closer to Extinction

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Washington, June 27, 2019 | Ben Goldey | comments
Western Caucus Members Spearhead Effort to Rescind Pebble Mine's Preemptive Veto
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WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, Members of the Western Caucus and outside stakeholders released statements applauding EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold's memo directing EPA officials to resume consideration of  withdrawing the Obama Administration's preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine in Alaska:

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
"Due process and the rule of law are enshrined in our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Businesses need regulatory and permitting certainty in order to create jobs and encourage investment. Preemptive vetoes are political weapons that fail to utilize science and undermine these essential guarantees. There is no good or lawful reason that the Pebble Project shouldn't be able to go through the normal environmental review process just like any other proposed project. I applaud EPA Counsel Leopold for traveling to Alaska, listening to people on both sides of the issue and then directing agency officials to resume consideration of scrapping the Obama Administration's preemptive veto of the Pebble Project. The Trump administration should finalize it's proposal to permanently ban preemptive vetoes by the EPA and Region 10 should quickly act to withdraw Pebble's Proposed Determination once and for all."

Chief Regulatory Reform Officer Andy Biggs (AZ-05): "The Trump administration continues to keep its promises by dismantling the Obama-era regulatory state.  I encourage the EPA to move swiftly through this process to provide stability for job creation and American ingenuity."

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist: "Americans for Tax Reform applauds the EPA's decision to resume consideration of withdrawing the Obama Administration's unprecedented preemptive veto of Pebble Mine. Pebble Mine, like all other projects, should be evaluated based upon a proper and well-established environmental review process. Instead, the Obama Administration chose to abuse and weaponize its authority under the Clean Water Act to block Pebble Mine's development before a permitting application was even submitted. Yesterday's announcement from General Counsel Matthew Leopold is a step forward towards restoring a consistent, fair and rational permitting process at the EPA. The Trump EPA now has a chance to right the wrongs of the past and withdraw the Obama Administration's unprecedented preemptive veto. ATR encourages them to do so."

National Mining Association Senior Vice President Rich Nolan:"Industrial projects of any kind should not be vetoed before they have even been proposed. Every project should be allowed to go through a comprehensive permitting process and weighed on its merits. Now, more than ever, we should be sending signals to attract resource investment and development, not push it away. We fully expect this administration to give the Pebble Mine the fair, transparent opportunity it deserves to meet both Alaska and the nation’s strong environmental standards. We applaud EPA restarting the process to consider withdrawing the veto and encourage them to quickly right an obvious wrong."

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Ben Lieberman: "The Obama EPA’s rejection of the Pebble Mine came before the mining company had even submitted its permit application, and was based on the agency’s own speculative analysis rather than the exhaustive Army Corps of Engineers review that is now underway.   This is something the Trump EPA should have already reversed, and we urge them to do so as quickly as possible."

Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier: "We are pleased the Trump Administration and the EPA have put this preemptive veto on a path to conclusion.  We have long advocated for a full, fair and regular process for Pebble and look forward to a prompt resolution from the EPA on this long standing matter."

Alaska Miners Association Executive Director Deantha Crockett: "We’re pleased that the Trump Administration and EPA have announced they will resume the process to consider withdrawal of the proposed determination.  Businesses across the United States, well beyond the mining industry, have long advocated for an objective process for Pebble and all look forward to a prompt resolution from the EPA on this long standing matter.  This preemptive veto has been wholly inconsistent with the rule of law since its inception and presents a serious deterrent to investment in resource projects in Alaska and the rest of the country.  It is for these reasons that we expect the ill-conceived proposed determination to be withdrawn by this administration."

Adam Hawkins, Global External: "Applicants deserve the opportunity to a fair and comprehensive review by federal agencies. This is great step by the administration to undo efforts holding companies back from a process they are entitled to under law. Thanks to the administration and members of the Western Caucus for their leadership."

Background:

On June 26, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) General Counsel Matthew Leopold signed a memo directing EPA Region 10 to resume consideration of  withdrawing the Obama Administration EPA's preemptive veto (Proposed Determination) of the Pebble Limited Partnership mining project in Alaska.

Members of the Congressional Western Caucus and conservative organizations throughout the country have consistently called on EPA to formally withdraw the preemptive veto as it was issued before the Pebble Mine had been formally proposed, was issued before any substantial environmental analysis had occurred, and threatened to set a dangerous precedent where future administrations could block important important projects throughout the country solely for political reasons that are not based on science.

Actions Taken by Western Caucus to Correct this Injustice include:

  • In May of 2018, Western Caucus led a coalition of 18 Members of Congress and dozens of stakeholders urging EPA to rescind the preemptive veto.  Click here for more
     
  • In June of 2019, Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar and staff met with General Counsel Leopold and staff and encouraged the EPA to act to withdraw the Obama Administration's preemptive veto. 
     
  • In June of 2019, Members of the Western Caucus opposed an amendment from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) that would block funding  to finalize an environmental study for the proposed Pebble Mine. Click here for more
     
  • In April of 2018, Western Caucus hosted Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier for a bipartisan briefing on this issue. 
     
  • In June of 2019, Western Caucus hosted Pebble Partnership Senior Vice President Peter Roberson for a bicameral briefing on this issue.

The Pebble Mine Project:

The Pebble Mine is a proposed copper, gold, and molybdenum mine in southwestern Alaska, located on State-owned lands dedicated to resource development.  Developing the Pebble deposit resource would create as many as 5,000 construction jobs and 3,000 full-time jobs in Alaska, and 16,000 jobs nationally, for the productive life of the mine; contribute as much as $2.5 billion to the U.S. GDP every year; and generate between $165-$213 million in annual taxes and royalties to the State.  In addition, the copper deposits alone would provide approximately 33% of the annual U.S. copper needs for many years, allowing the U.S. to reduce its dependence on foreign imports. The deposit is estimated to contain 6.5 billion tons of known minerals and another 4.5 billion tons of assumed minerals, including more than $100 billion worth of gold alone.

NEPA, History of the Proposed Determination and Federal Overreach by the Obama Administration:

Developing the Pebble Mine requires the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to issue a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the USACE to complete an environmental study before it can issue such a permit. 

Congress enacted Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to provide a rigorous, science-based process for comprehensive federal review of proposed natural resources projects like the proposed Pebble Mine.  NEPA directs the Corps to identify and evaluate reasonable project alternatives, environmental impacts and potential mitigation measures, through a process informed by comprehensive input from the public, state and federal government agency stakeholders.

In July of 2014, the Obama Administration's EPA Region 10 announced it would initiate an unprecedented proceeding  to preemptively veto the Pebble Mine, while Pebble sponsors were still in the process of evaluating the financing, scope and appropriate environmental safeguards for the project and before they had even applied for a Section 404 permit. 

In July of 2017, the Trump Administration proposed to withdraw the 2014 Proposed Determination. In January of 2018, EPA suspended the withdrawal proceeding.

In December of 2017, the Pebble Limited Partnership submitted a permit application to USACE to develop the Pebble Mine. 

In February of 2019, the USACE released a 1,400-page draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pebble mine for public review and comment, as required by NEPA.  The public comment period is slated to end July 1, 2019.

Once the public input is received and evaluated, the USACE will move forward to complete a Final EIS. EPA's Proposed Determination will need to be formally withdrawn prior to USACE issuing a permit for the Pebble Mine. 

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