CEI Calls on EPA to Turn Over Bristol Bay Documents to Congress

Washington, D.C., January 10, 2013 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today called on the Environmental Protection Agency to stop stonewalling repeated requests over many months by the House of Representatives and turn over documents related to the agency’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, first asked the EPA for the documents in May 2012.  The EPA’s assessment of the potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Project copper, gold and molybdenum mine on the Bristol Bay area in southwest Alaska was completed before the proposed mine’s developers had applied for any of the necessary environmental permits.

“The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is a shoddy piece of work that was rushed to completion by the EPA for the sole purpose of stopping one of the biggest mining projects ever undertaken in the United States,” said Myron Ebell, director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment.

It is estimated the Pebble Project would directly employ 1,000 people in high-paying jobs for at least 30 years, create hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth and pay tens of billions of dollars in taxes to the State of Alaska and the federal government.  The proposed mine would disturb less than seven square miles of wetlands in the Bristol Bay watershed, which is approximately 20,000 square miles.  Alaska has a land area of 586,412 square miles, of which 175,000 square miles are classified as wetlands.

“Federal agencies are accountable by law to Congress, but Obama’s EPA thinks it can work in secret and get away with it,” said Ebell.  “EPA’s refusal to turn over the Pebble Project documents to Congress is only the tip of the iceberg.  EPA has repeatedly refused to comply with numerous Freedom of Information Act requests made by CEI’s Chris Horner; and consequently, CEI has had to file a number of lawsuits to force EPA to obey the law.”

“It is highly suspicious the EPA has kept Chairman Issa in the dark over the decision-making process for a natural resource project that has been loudly opposed by radical environmental groups,” said Brian McGraw, policy analyst at CEI.  “EPA’s refusal to turn over the documents requested by the House is yet more evidence the EPA under President Obama has abandoned all pretense of objectivity to please environmental special-interest groups.”

CEI has covered opposition by radical environmental pressure groups to the Pebble Project extensively on its ResourcefulEarth.com website.  The National Center for Public Policy Research this week published a short report by Dr. Bonner Russell Cohen that is highly critical of the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and of the process that led to its production.