CEI Asks EPA to Withdraw “Premature and Speculative” Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, Proposed Determination

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 10

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free market public policy group, today filed a petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to either correct or withdraw the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) because it fails to adhere to standards under the Information Quality Act and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and EPA guidelines. The BBWA was used to support EPA’s proposed determination, which in practical effect acts as a preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska. 

CEI is challenging the BBWA and the proposed determination it supports under the Information Quality Act because: 

  • It was conducted before the permit for the Pebble Mine project was submitted, which meant all the analysis contained in the BBWA was based on speculation and included without knowledge of any specifics of the proposed project, and;
  • The process the EPA used to develop, compile, and review the BBWA was marked by numerous instances of bias that failed to meet EPA guidelines. 

These failures under the Information Quality Act mean the ongoing distribution of the BBWA and use of it to effectively block the Pebble Mine project are in violation of the law.

“EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and the proposed determination it supports clearly violate the standards set in the Information Quality Act and should be either corrected or withdrawn immediately,” said CEI senior fellow Ben Lieberman.

Several peer reviewers of the BBWA raised doubts about the utility of EPA’s premature and speculative assessment, as did the State of Alaska and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

“Since the assessment was conducted before the Pebble Mine project’s permit was even submitted and the process of drafting it was marked by persistent bias, it cannot possibly meet the Act’s requirements of ‘objectivity, utility, and integrity,’” Lieberman added. “This inherently flawed and biased assessment must be corrected or, preferably, withdrawn in order to ensure review of the proposed project actually complies with the law.”

You can read the full CEI petition to EPA here.

March 20, 2019 update: read the follow-up letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler here.