Pebble Mine Preemptive Veto Scrapped, Obama Tool of Tyranny No More

Western Caucus Members and stakeholder released statements applauding the EPA's decision to withdraw President Obama's outdated, preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine Project in Southwest Alaska

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Western Caucus Members, EPA officials and Caucus' stakeholders released statements applauding the EPA's decision to withdraw President Obama's outdated, preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine Project in Southwest Alaska:

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "There is no good or lawful reason that the Pebble Mine Project shouldn't be able to go through the normal environmental review process just like any other proposed project. President Obama's veto was based on political expediency rather than sound science. I am grateful to see another terrible decision from the previous administration reversed by President Trump."

EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick: "After today’s action, EPA will focus on the permit review process for the Pebble Mine project. The agency has worked closely with the Army Corps to engage with stakeholders and the public on this issue, which has resulted in an expansive public record, including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014."

EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold: "Region 10’s decision restores the proper process for 404(c) determinations, eliminating a preemptive veto of a hypothetical mine and focusing EPA’s environmental review on an actual project before the Agency."

Chief Regulatory Reform Officer Andy Biggs (AZ-05): "I commend the Trump administration for striking down the previous administration’s preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine Project, which set an extraordinarily ominous precedent. I now hope that Pebble’s sponsors receive what all mining companies deserve: a fair review.  We must also extensively reform EPA’s permitting process to ensure that other companies in the future are not subjected to the whims of unaccountable bureaucrats."

Chief Agriculture and Business Officer Doug LaMalfa (CA-01): "The preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine Project was the definition of the type of bureaucratic regulatory abuse that had become far too common under the Obama Administration. I’m happy to see yet another one of these misguided decisions reversed by the Trump Administration so that every project is treated fairly and subject to the same environmental review process as anyone else."

Congressman Bob Gibbs (OH-07): "I am relieved to see the EPA taking this corrective action. The Obama Administration’s preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine short-circuited the Section 404 permitting process, setting a dangerous precedent and empowering EPA bureaucrats well beyond their constitutional authority. The EPA has an important role to play in the NEPA process, but preemptively issuing permit denials is an abuse of power, which is why I introduced the Reform EPA Act to curb the agency’s veto authority. No entity would even bother applying for a permit without the certainty of a fair and impartial process. I applaud the Trump Administration’s efforts to ensure due process and private property rights are protected."

Alaska Miners Association Executive Director Deantha Crockett: "We are glad to see the EPA has removed this proposed determination and that fair and due process is back on the table for Pebble. Development proposals must be stringently evaluated, and only fair reviews of project proposals will ensure continued investment in Alaska’s economy. This is a magnificent mineral deposit that would bring substantial revenues and jobs to Alaska at a time when we need both more than ever."

Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier: "Finally, this Administration has reversed the outrageous federal government overreach inflicted on the State of Alaska by the Obama Administration. The preemptive veto was an action by an Administration that sought to vastly expand EPA’s authority to regulate land use on state, private and Native-owned lands throughout the United States, and in doing so kill one of America’s most important mineral projects before a development plan was proposed or a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) permitting review was undertaken. The Proposed Determination ordered to be lifted today was a preemptive veto that had never before been attempted in the 45-year history of the Clean Water Act – a fact acknowledged by the former Administrator’s senior staff."

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform: "Today's decision from the EPA to finally withdraw the Obama administration's unprecedented use of preemptive veto against Pebble Mine is a major win for the rule of law. In an attempt to appease radical environmentalists and their donors, the Obama administration weaponized the EPA to deny this project's environmental review. ATR is thankful the Trump EPA reversed this decision and held to the simple idea that a project's permitting should be based upon a proper environmental review process and not the politics of the President."

Ben Lieberman, Competitive Enterprise Institute: "The Obama EPA's pre-emptive rejection of the Pebble Mine threatened to block this worthwhile project that has the potential to create thousands of jobs and provide a wealth of minerals, including rare earths. The Trump EPA did the right thing by reversing this mistake and instead of participating in the Army Corps of Engineers’ data-driven analysis under NEPA that is currently underway."

The National Mining Association: "This is a long-overdue but welcome development that will allow the rigorous permit review process for the Pebble Mine project to proceed in a fair and transparent fashion. This was a classic case of the EPA under the prior administration abusing its veto authority to obstruct a project before it was even proposed. Every project - including Pebble - should be weighed on its merits. Regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. that stemmed from actions such as the original veto have hampered investment in our vast domestic resources for too long; our hope is that commonsense action such as this, coupled with permitting reforms that have been proposed under this administration, will help increase investment in domestic mining and decrease our reliance on foreign imports."


Today, EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick withdrew the Obama Administration's preemptive veto of the proposed Pebble Mine Project in Southwest Alaska.

The Pebble Mine:

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.

History of Federal Overreach:

Developing the Pebble Mine requires the USACE to issue a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), and NEPA requires the USACE to complete an EIS before it can issue such a permit.  In February 2014, the Obama Administration EPA announced it was initiating an unprecedented proceeding under CWA Section 404(c) 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.

Actions Taken by Western Caucus to Correct this Injustice Include:

  • In April of 2018, Western Caucus hosted Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier for a bipartisan briefing on this issue. 

  • 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 June of 2019, Western Caucus hosted Pebble Partnership Senior Vice President Peter Roberson for a bicameral briefing on this issue.
  • In June of 2019, Members of the Western Caucus and stakeholders released statements applauding EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopard decision directing officials to resume consideration of the preemptive veto. Click here for more

Courtesy of the EPA:

This action removes the Agency’s outdated, preemptive proposed veto of the Pebble Mine and restores the well-understood permit review process.  EPA Region 10 reached this conclusion based on two primary reasons.  First, the Corps’ DEIS includes significant project-specific information that was not accounted for in the 2014 Proposed Determination and, based on that information, the Corps has reached preliminary conclusions that in certain respects conflict with preliminary conclusions in the 2014 Proposed Determination.  The now-five-year-old Proposed Determination does not grapple with the currently available expansive record, including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014.  Second, other processes are available and better-suited for EPA to resolve issues with the Corps as the record develops; specifically, the well-understood elevation process under CWA section 404(q) and the NEPA process.  EPA believes these processes should be exhausted prior to any decision by EPA, based upon all information that has and will be developed, to exercise its section 404(c) authority.  A detailed explanation of EPA’s decision is available in the notice signed today by EPA’s Region 10 Administrator, which will be published in the Federal Register."


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