Murkowski: Preemptive Veto Would Trample Scientific Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement in response to a news report that Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell may seek a preemptive veto from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the proposed Pebble Mine: 

“Attempts to prejudge development in the Bristol Bay area before a permit application has even been submitted would make a mockery out of the federal environmental review process. A preemptive veto makes no more sense than a preemptive approval.

“I am fully committed to protecting Bristol Bay and the fishing industry it supports, but a preemptive veto represents a serious violation of Alaska’s state’s rights and would undermine the science-based approach long promised by this administration.

“When and if a permit application is submitted – for Pebble or any other project –  an independent scientific review is exactly what happens under the environmental review process that NEPA provides,” Murkowski said.

On Feb. 7, in response to being petitioned to preemptively veto development, EPA announced plans to conduct a watershed assessment of the Bristol Bay area in Alaska. In response, Murkowski sent EPA a letter (attached) and recently toured the Pebble site with EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLaren. During that visit, Murkowski pointed out that the wetlands throughout the Bristol Bay region are similar in character, and a preemptive veto could have widespread and unintended consequences for any development project, including airports and other infrastructure.

Today, Murkowski once again stipulated her support for the normal environmental review process and her opposition to EPA attempts to expand its authorities to include preemptive vetoes of development.

Murkowski is the Ranking Member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.