Massive Public Opposition to EPA’s Bristol Bay Study

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 2, 2013 – A record number of Americans have rejected the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Resourceful Earth project announced today.

More citizens logged comments opposing EPA’s pre-emptive assessment in its second public comment period, which ended June 30, than the total number of comments received in the first comment period last year.  Through CEI’s Resourceful Earth alone, more than 236,400 comments opposing the EPA’s flawed study were submitted, compared to a total of 229,158 comments submitted all of last year, according to publicly available documents.

“While well-funded national environmental pressure groups have been fighting the proposed Pebble Project for years, the American public has just now become aware of the mine’s potential to create more than 15,000 jobs and $64 billion in economic contributions, and to the devastating precedent that would be set by EPA taking pre-emptive action on the project outside of the normal permitting process,” said Myron Ebell, director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment and its Resourceful Earth project.

“Supporters of jobs, American natural resource production and a rational environmental permitting process are just beginning the fight over the proposed Pebble Mine.”

A preliminary review of the public record shows the environmental NGOs used suspicious tactics to inflate the number of public comments supporting EPA’s study. For instance, Earthworks, an avowed anti-mining advocacy group, submitted 7,545 comments on May 29, urging the EPA to initiate a 404C pre-emptive permit veto. However, the names submitted were actually drawn from an online petition that was created before the current comment period. Earthworks’ petition was not directed to the EPA, nor did it pertain to the watershed assessment, the permitting process or the EPA action. 

In addition, it appears the majority of comments submitted by Earthworks are not from American citizens. Of the 7,545 signers in this single Earthworks submission alone,  4,746 were from foreign nationals.

“It is unfortunately not surprising to learn that extreme environmental pressure groups are abusing the EPA’s public comment process and distorting the results with these dishonest, underhanded tactics,” said Ebell. “In our small snapshot, we found clear evidence that Earthworks is using misdirection to gain signatures and sourcing comments from non-U.S. citizens. They are willfully disenfranchising countless native Alaskans in the Bristol Bay region and people throughout the nation who would benefit from Pebble’s huge economic contributions.”