Murkowski Reacts to EPA’s Latest Announcement on Pebble Mine

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has withdrawn the proposed determination it issued in 2014 for the Pebble mine project in southwest Alaska.

“I have never supported preemptive restrictions for any project in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “It is inappropriate for an agency to prejudge a project years before its proponent has filed a permit application. Allowing agencies to expand their authority in this manner would set a dangerous precedent that undermines confidence in the normal, well-established permitting process.”

EPA has separately initiated the Clean Water Act’s “404(q)” dispute resolution process with the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to address its concerns with the permit application and anticipated environmental impacts of the proposed mine.

In late June, EPA announced it would take the first step in the 404(q) process, through a finding that the project “may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance.” EPA has not yet taken the next step, known as “3(b),” which would determine that the project will have such impacts. Instead, EPA requested that the Corps agree to extend the process to allow a decision to be made at a more appropriate juncture.  

This approach will allow EPA to remain engaged throughout the permitting process for the Pebble mine. EPA retains its authority to veto the potential permit if it finds the project would cause unacceptable impacts.

Murkowski is Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.