Former Republican EPA chiefs blast controversial Alaska mining project

Former Republican EPA chiefs blast controversial Alaska mining project
© Getty Images

Three former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators who served under Republican presidents came out against a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska on Tuesday.

In a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post, the former officials called the project “the wrong mine in absolutely the wrong place,” and said that as the Trump administration’s EPA considers the project, “the answer is no.”

“The choice is simple,” the administrators wrote in the advertisement. “Protect the greatest salmon fishery on the planet. Protect Alaskans and the Bristol Bay watershed.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Three EPA administrators — William Ruckelshaus (who served under Presidents Nixon and Reagan), William Reilly (George H.W. Bush) and Christine Todd Whitman (George W. Bush) — signed the letter, along with Bruce Babbitt, an Interior Secretary under President Clinton.

The EPA in May revived the controversial proposal, which envisions a precious metal mine near Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska.

Under President Obama, the EPA pre-emptively rejected developer Pebble Limited Partnership’s plans before the company submitted permit applications. Trump’s EPA agreed to rescind that rejection and allow the permitting process to move forward.

Because federal agencies, including the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, have to approve the project, any potential mine in Pebble Bay is years away. But opponents of the project, including environmentalists and local commercial fishermen who operate in Bristol Bay, have worked aggressively to halt it.

“We oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to sweep nearly a decade of science and Clean Water Act review under the rug,” the officials wrote in their advertisement.

“The record is clear: The Pebble Mine is fundamentally flawed — it’s the wrong mine in the wrong place.”