Congress pushes EPA on giant Pebble mine

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress hope to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from blocking the gigantic Pebble open pit mine in Alaska, proposed for one of the last places left on the globe to support huge runs of wild salmon.

EPA opponents in the House of Representatives held the first congressional hearing over the proposed copper and gold mine Thursday as the contentious issue gains increasing national attention.

“A pre-emptive veto by EPA would set a dangerous precedent and could have a chilling effect on similar projects throughout the nation,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun, who chaired the science and technology subcommittee hearing. “Investors would be wary of funding projects if they believed that a federal agency could just say no at any time prior to permit applications.”

The EPA says it has the power under the federal Clean Water Act to stop the Pebble mine or impose strict conditions on its development. But the agency hasn’t decided whether to use that authority, EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said Thursday in an email.

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