A growing number of groups around the nation are deeply concerned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempts to clamp down on development in this country, killing jobs and economic growth along the way. This quest to fulfill a radical green agenda, pushed by EPA’s natural allies in the environmental movement, has led to accusations that the agency is, not only subverting sound science and long-established regulatory processes, but employing a "whatever it takes" approach to locking up America’s land and resources.
The attention of most states around the country has been rightly focused on the new air emissions standards, which will have a significant impact on states like Wyoming, the number one coal producing state in the country. However, EPA’s overzealous regulatory thirst when it comes to the Clean Water Act could decimate not just American mining, but any development project anywhere in the country, including construction, agriculture, housing, energy, and manufacturing, to name a few.
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That’s why groups like the American Farm Bureau are speaking out about EPA issuing new regulations that may require farmers to get permits for even small projects on their lands – projects for which they have long been exempt. Farmers are wise to raise concerns before new rules go into place, because as the CEO of the proposed Pebble mine, a significant cooper and gold deposit in Southwest Alaska, I have seen first-hand how EPA can manipulate existing rules to gain far-reaching new powers that Congress never intended.
If EPA has its way, the agency will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to preemptively veto the Pebble project, before an application for a permit has even been filed. If this occurs, it will be the first time in history, and it will set a regulatory precedent that gives EPA power of life and death over any project, anywhere, at any time. That will be especially true in states like Wyoming with major mining interests.
In the case of Pebble, the EPA has resorted to:
* plotting behind the scenes with environmental groups on how to kill Pebble;
* conducting its own study of a hypothetical fantasy mine to justify a veto of Pebble, rather than completing an Environmental Impact Statement based on the mine’s actual plan;
* disregarding the views of its own scientists and external peer reviewers;
* failing to respond sufficiently to a congressional subpoena, resulting in the committee chair threatening to hold EPA in contempt; one former EPA employee has avoided testifying by leaving the country ... his last known location was New Zealand.
The proposed Pebble mine should be given the opportunity, as every other major development project in the country has, to file an application for a permit and be judged under the rules of existing law. To circumvent its own regulatory process and veto Pebble before a plan has even been defined or submitted is wrong. And it is not just unfair to one state and one developer-- it will have far-reaching implications for states and industries throughout the country.
Around 60,000 permits are sought under the Clean Water Act every year in the United States. These development projects represent hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
Alaska’s attorney general recently said, “the most troubling aspect of the EPA seeking to veto [Pebble]…is that it sets precedent to take land anywhere in the United States and prematurely limit development of a valuable resource.”
States like Alaska and Wyoming need to stand strong against EPA overreach for the sake of their citizens, their industries and the U.S. economy. And yes, the environment.