Murkowski blasts EPA on Pebble Mine restrictions

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) slammed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposed restrictions on the planned Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska, saying the decision sets a dangerous precedent.

“The EPA is being disingenuous in saying that this decision is only going to impact mining in a particular area of Alaska,” Murkowski said said in a statement.

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“The EPA is setting a precedent that strips Alaska and all Alaskans of the ability to make decisions on how to develop a healthy economy on their lands.”

Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has long been critical of the EPA’s actions as they pertain to the Pebble Mine. Friday’s announcement of restrictions came before Pebble applied for a permit to dispose of waste materials in a way that could harm waterways.

Under the limits unveiled Friday, Pebble would would be prohibited from causing the loss of five miles of streams with salmon; 19 miles of streams without salmon; 1,100 acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes; or alter streamflows.

“This is a blueprint that will be used across the county to stop economic development,” Murkowski said.

Alaska’s other senator, Sen. Mark Begich (D), said he agrees with the EPA’s assessment that Pebble Mine is not appropriate.

“As I’ve often stated, I believe Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place,” he said in a statement. “However, I remain a strong supporter of the mining industry and mines in other regions of Alaska and remain committed to ensuring that this process does not allow any precedent to be set that could restrict other responsible mining projects in Alaska or the U.S.”

In response to the idea that the EPA’s decision could have repercussions outside of Pebble, Begich said that does not appear to be the case.

“The limited scope is critical and means the determination would not affect mining or any other resource development project in other parts of the state,” he said.

Begich is in a tough reelection fight against Dan Sullivan, the former commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources. Sullivan has accused Begich of not fighting hard enough for the industries that depend on Alaska’s natural resources, such as oil, gas and mining.