WASHINGTON—Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Subcommittee on the Interior Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter and report to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy outlining the Committee’s findings from its investigation on the EPA’s unprecedented 404(c) action in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
In their letter, the Chairmen state that, “…EPA’s actions with respect to Pebble Mine are highly questionable and lacking a legal basis…” and urged EPA to “withdraw the Proposed 404(c) Determination for the Pebble Deposit and the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment; cease all preemptive 404(c) activity; and, allow for project proposals in Bristol Bay to undergo the conventional CWA and NEPA processes.”
Of the key findings, the most alarming was the discovery that EPA employees frequently provided sensitive information to mine opponents. One EPA employee, who should have functioned as a neutral arbiter in permitting applications, actually helped draft the tribal petition that the agency later claimed to have relied on in their determination. That same individual later left the country and avoided service of a subpoena for his testimony.
Additional findings include:
• EPA employees knew that the agency’s use of a Section 404(c) preemptive veto was unprecedented.
• EPA planned to halt mining activity in Bristol Bay well before receiving petitions from local tribes that urged EPA to take action. EPA’s claim that it took action under Section 404(c) in response to the tribal petitions is not true.
• An EPA employee proposed ways to shield the agency’s work on the Bristol Bay matter from Freedom of Information Act requests.
• Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson dodged advocates for the mining venture and communicated the agency’s decisions regarding Bristol Bay at an event sponsored by anti-mine groups.
Supplemental report documents can be viewed here.
To view all Committee reports click here.