During the course of the debate about the proposed Pebble open-pit mine, former Gov. Frank Murkowski has proven one of the most ill-informed supporters of the wildly unpopular project. His most recent Community Perspective piece in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner attacking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds him true to form.
There are many points worth critiquing, but Murkowski gets the most fundamental fact wrong in his opinion piece. There is no “veto” of Pebble Mine, period. The EPA has proposed a set of common-sense, science-based standards for mining in Bristol Bay and the fact is the Pebble Limited Partnership is free to apply for permits tomorrow if it wants.
Moreover, the EPA’s work in Bristol Bay comes at the request of a diverse coalition of Alaskans. Bristol Bay Tribal governments led the request, and subsequently were joined by a broad array of local interests including the regional Native corporation, commercial and sport fishermen and Alaskans from across the political spectrum. The EPA request was not a knee-jerk reaction, it was carefully considered after years of inaction by the state and the Legislature.
In fact, it was Mr. Murkowski who created this situation in the first place. Under his leadership, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued a land plan for Bristol Bay in 2005, eliminating protections for fish and wildlife on more than 90 percent of acreage under state management, paving the way for Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals to stake claim to the Pebble prospect.
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