Page 1 of 17 12311 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 323

Thread: EPA and Pebble

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    1,206

    Default EPA and Pebble

    Here's a recent article on Pebble Mine and EPA.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-...-mine-decision

    To fully understand the story, you need to know that EPA has authority under 404(C) of the Clean Water Act to veto Federal decisions that have a signficant adverse impact on water quality. However, they rarely use this authority. It's only used in the most extreme cases. Their veto authority has always been used to veto a decision AFTER a decision has been made. For example, if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues a dredge/fill permit to destroy a wetland, EPA can veto the project based on 404(c).

    Perhaps the most visible use of the 404(C) authority was in 1992 when EPA vetoed the Two Forks Dam proposal just outside Denver. It was a huge irrigation dam that would supply Denver with water for their lawns. That veto was upheld all the way to the White House (the first GWB). In the Great Land, just last year EPA was asked, but refused, to use it's 404(C) authority to veto a new bridge over the Tanana River just outside Fairbanks.

    The issue here is that EPA is considering using it's authority BEFORE any decision is made on Pebble Mine. Vetoing a decisions before it's been made would be new. Really new. Some folks don't believe EPA has that authority. I'm not sure they do either. But if you read the very last line of the above story, you can understand why some folks are nervous.......

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    . . why some folks are nervous.......
    Even more folks would be nervous if they read Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges for its scathing indictment of what open-pit mining and slurry impoundments have done for the people and the environment of West Virginia.

  3. #3
    Member bushrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Now residing in Fairbanks from the bush
    Posts
    4,363

    Default

    Coho, thanks for posting this up.

    A couple links for you and others if you want more facts on all this. First, from the EPA website, a paper on their 404(c) veto authority and when and how many times it's been used:
    http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidan...pload/404c.pdf

    Secondly, one of the best articles on all this I've found, with a ton of footnotes and facts:
    http://www.sjel.org/vol2/using-the-c...bble-mine.html

    The reality of all this is that the EPA has used their 404(c) veto authority in the past prior to a permit application being submitted to or approved by the Army Corps. This would not be something new in that regard. The EPA has only twice (according to the above article) used this veto authority after the Corps issued a permit.

    So why the confusion and hyperbole on that? Well proponents of the mine are arguing that what is unprecedented is this pre-emptive involvement in the Pebble Mine project by the EPA in doing their own watershed test and evaluation. That isn't true though. This is a perfect example overall of why the veto authority was written into law and regulation under the CWA, and a prime example of where and how it should be used.

    We have the uniqueness of the area in question, largest and last wild salmon runs of their kind in the country, commercial and subsistence and recreational uses of those fish (and game in the area), the lax permitting regulations the state of Alaska has that favors development (e.g. the 2005 Bristol Bay Area Plan), the scope of this project which could mean the largest mine of its kind in the world...do we really have to see a plan and permitting applications in order to come to a reasoned rational conclusion that any mine of this type will come with an "unacceptable adverse effect"?

    At the same time I can respect and understand the concern our congressional delegation and governor and mining proponents have should the EPA initiate this process, but I think too that is overblown because this is such a unique area and the scope of the mine is so vast. I mean I don't envision the EPA suddenly using this authority willy nilly across Alaska for other projects. Congressman Young even went so far as to introduce a bill to completely strip the EPA's 404(c) veto authority from the CWA. I honestly can't believe though that most sportsmen and women, those who really care about water quality and fisheries and recreational uses etc, would favor that. We need these types of checks and balances regardless of any particular decisions the EPA under any administration would make.

    We'll see how it all pans out...I remain firmly in the NO ON PEBBLE camp.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post


    I remain firmly in the NO ON PEBBLE camp.

    I am still in the NO Trans-Alaska Pipeline camp. Alaska would have been a better place now without the line.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    1,206

    Default

    Mark - Thank you for the Law Journal article. It's a great read....... if you like that kinda stuff. Fortunately, I do.

    I would note there is a difference between beginning a 404(c) process, and completing it with a veto. As the article indicates:

    "To initiate the public process, the Regional Administrator needs only to find that an unacceptable adverse effect could result from the activity, whereas the prohibition itself (a veto) requires the EPA to determine that the activity will have an adverse effect.258


    Clearly, the activity will not have an adverse affect if the decision is to reject the permit and the project. No harm, no foul. Conversely, if the project is approved (by the Corps of Engineers, or whoever), then the activity will have an adverse effect. The author maintains that EPA should begin the 404(c) process now, so they are in a position to exercise the veto authority at a later date. I'm okay with that. It's clearly within their authority. However, I maintain that exercising the authority before a decision is made is new. Perhaps others see it differently.

    It'd be nice if EPA did exercise a veto before a decision is made, since it would likely end up in court. And perhaps the courts could tell us if this is within EPA's authority.

    I also remain firmly in the No Pebble camp.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,599

    Default

    No Pebble here also.
    Front page in our paper this week was a story of an outfit in Homer wanting our locals to pick and sell them blue berries at fifty cents a pound.Even the mayor said no.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  7. #7
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Question

    Me too . . against Pebble, that is.

    But what's objectionable about the blueberry thing? Lots of folks pick wild whatever—ginseng, mushrooms, etc.—for profit. Too cheap @ 50-cents/pound?

    Just curious . .

  8. #8
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,599

    Default

    Some outfit selling hand picked supplements from different berries
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Default http://madrad2002.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/coal-slurry-dam-disaster/

    "One of the byproducts of Mountaintop Removal coal mining is toxic coal slurry. Billions of gallons are stored in dams, and often it’s around local communities. Nevermind that living so close to these toxic pools of waste affects people’s health, but it’s dangerous since the dam holding back the coal slurry can break. If it does, then the surrounding community faces disaster."

    Attachment 62761

    The Tennessee Valley Authority, better known as TVA, has a coal-burning power plant located near Harriman, Tennessee, along Interstate 40 between Knoxville and Nashville. The stuff that is left over after TVA burns their coal is called coal ash.

    Coal ash contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic – materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash.

    TVA has a huge mountain of this coal waste material stored in a gigantic pile next to their Harriman (Kingston) power plant, alongside a tributary of the Tennessee River.

    On Monday morning Dec. 22 around 1:00 am, the earthen retaining wall around this mountain of coal ash failed and approximately 500 million gallons of nasty black coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

    This Tennessee TVA spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, if local news accounts are correct.

    *** This is a huge environmental disaster of epic proportions.
    To see an amazing aerial video of the spill – the big hunks and chunks in the river are mounds of coal ash:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGmVCABMRRQ

  10. #10
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Exclamation

    The Teton Dam was a federally-built earthen dam in Idaho in the United States, put up by the Bureau of Reclamation, one of eight federal agencies authorized to construct dams. Located on the Teton River in the eastern part of the state between Fremont and Madison counties, it suffered a catastrophic failure on June 5, 1976, when it was being filled for the first time. The collapse of the dam resulted in the deaths of 11 people and 13,000 head of cattle. The dam cost about $100 million to build, and the federal government paid over $300 million in claims related to its failure. Total damage estimates have ranged up to $2 billion. The dam has not been rebuilt.

    Attachment 62767

  11. #11
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Default Briefly off-topic . .

    . . story of an outfit in Homer wanting . . locals to pick and sell them blue berries at fifty cents a pound. . .
    Thanks for the heads-up . . here's the article for anyone interested:

    Homer group seeks Wrangell blueberries

    Back now to our regular programming . .

  12. #12
    Member sayak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Central peninsula, between the K-rivers
    Posts
    5,788

    Default

    I am a firm believer in letting the state departments and agencies do their jobs and shut down the mine (or plans) if necessary. Every endeavor deserves a fair process.
    I am not saying I favor the mine... I think I don't.

  13. #13
    Member bushrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Now residing in Fairbanks from the bush
    Posts
    4,363

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sayak
    I am a firm believer in letting the state departments and agencies do their jobs and shut down the mine (or plans) if necessary. Every endeavor deserves a fair process.


    The problem, Steve, is that the process the state currently is using favors development, so it isn't really "fair." The truth of that can be found in the Bristol Bay Area Plan that guides the entire process...for example there is no land use classification for subsistence hunting and fishing. One would think that should be a no-brainer for the state to recognize the importance of subsistence hunting and fishing in the region and include it in a plan that will determine what impacts there could be on those activities region-wide. 'Bout the farthest thing from "fair" to the people of the region (and the fish and wildlife they depend upon) that I can think of.


    And to Cohoangler, the way I read the law journal article, in all but two instances of the EPA using the 404(c) veto authority it was done prior to the Corps either approving or reviewing permit apps. So I still don't follow why you believe that would be something new if it would happen in this case but maybe I read that wrong.

    By the way, here is a link to a rebuttal of the Hill article you first posted about:
    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-bl...our-livelihood


  14. #14
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    The problem, Steve, is that the process the state currently is using favors development, . .

    And the greater problem might be corporate capitalism's love affair with short term profits at the expense of human community, quality of life, and the environment.

    If that's the case, and there are many who believe it is, then the problem is far from an Alaskan anomaly.


    Well, they have the individuals who live within those areas have no power. The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless. You see that in the coal fields of Southern West Virginia.

    Now here, in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States. And yet these harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted. And that money is not funneled back into the communities that are sitting on top of, or next to those resources.

    Not only that, but they're extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed quite literally because you have not only terrible problems with erosion, as they cause when they do the mountaintop removal, they'll use these gigantic bulldozers to push off all the trees and then burn them.

    And when we flew over the Appalachians, and it's a terrifying experience, because you realize only then do you realize how vast the devastation is. Just as when we were both in the war in Bosnia, you couldn't grasp the destruction of ethnic cleansing until you actually flew over Bosnia, and village after village after village had been razed and destroyed.

    And the same was true in the Appalachian Mountains. And these people are poisoned. The water is poisoned, it smells, the soil is poisoned. And the people who are making tremendous profits from this don't even live in West Virginia--

    —Chris Hedges to Bill Moyers


    For a transcript of the entire interview and more: http://truth-out.org/news/item/10494...yed-for-profit

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    1,206

    Default

    Mark - I found the law journal's reference to only two instances of EPA using their 404(c) authority after a decision has been made to be quite surprising. I have personally reviewed several instances where EPA used their 404(c) authority after a Federal decision was made. So I am not sure what the law journal was referring to. The footnote doesn't help much either.

    The difference might be that the EPA regulations indicate they have the authority to veto a project before a decision is made, while the law (Clean Water Act) is not exactly clear. When developing regulations, it's not unusual for a Federal agency to view their legal authorities quite broadly, especially if there is ambiguity in the law (much to the consternation of anti-government types). So my sense is that EPA has written their 404(c) regulations it be rather expansive. In this case, their have interpreted the CWA as giving them the ability to veto a project before a decision has been made. So even though EPA may hav used their authority to veto a project before a decision, that doesn't mean that authority is consistent with the law. It just means nobody has challenged it in court.

    To be clear - the law was written by Congress and the regs were written by EPA. Regs cannot overide or expand upon what Congress has written. So it's the job of the third branch of gov't (the courts) to determine whether the EPA regs are within the confines of the law (CWA). Thus, the last sentence of my previous post.

    We may continue to disagree on this issue, but we both agree that Pebble Mine is a really bad idea.

  16. #16
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Exclamation

    It would seem to me that whomever makes whatever decision is quite immaterial to the motives driving the decision. From today's Anchorage Daily News:

    Corporations aim to shape Alaska politics

    STEVE HAYCOX
    Published: August 24th, 2012 09:11 AM

    For several months Alaskans have been bombarded with concerted, corporate-generated television, radio and print advertising campaigns advocating . . support for development of the Pebble mineral prospect, . . .

    The money supporting the development of Pebble comes ultimately from the owning corporations: London-based Anglo American and Canadian-based Northern Dynasty Minerals, Ltd., an arm of the global conglomerate Hunter Dickinson. . . .

    As these global corporate giants seek to shape Alaska politics, a closer look at their nature provides insight into their motivation. The ultimate goal of corporations, their raison d'etre, is to generate profit for their shareholders; that is the fiduciary responsibility of their managers. The managers also have a legal responsibility to operate within the law, though the law can often be generously elastic. . .

    In Alaska, . . Anglo American and Northern Dynasty, seek freedom, freedom from taxation and from environmental regulation, because both constrain their potential profitability. And the managers of those corporations seem willing to take risks with the environment and to undertake to shape Alaska's taxing policy in the interest of that freedom, risks and actions they might not endorse as individuals.

    —the complete article here: http://www.adn.com/2012/08/23/259830...ape-state.html


  17. #17
    Member sayak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Central peninsula, between the K-rivers
    Posts
    5,788

    Default

    I enjoyed seeing Bill Moyers' and Stephen Haycox's names juxtaposed with your "jawbone of an ass" quote. How appropriate.
    I believe the state should champion development; careful, careful, sensitive development.
    I lived in Bristol Bay when the salmon didn't come during the early 70s. It was declared a disaster area and people have forgotten. Were it to happen again, (as it very well may seeing what has happened to other rivers) they might embrace an alternative to fishing.

  18. #18
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Wink Hmmmm . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    I enjoyed seeing Bill Moyers' and Stephen Haycox's names juxtaposed with your "jawbone of an ass" quote. How appropriate.
    I believe the state should champion development; careful, careful, sensitive development.
    I lived in Bristol Bay when the salmon didn't come during the early 70s. It was declared a disaster area and people have forgotten. Were it to happen again, (as it very well may seeing what has happened to other rivers) they might embrace an alternative to fishing.
    Now, now, there's two sides to every coin, and the "jawbone of an ass" depends on which side is up, doesn't it?

    That said, who will naysay "careful, careful, sensitive development"? But "careful" about what? And "sensitive" to what? Corporate profits? The environment? Human community?

    Therein lies the rub.

    As for Bristol Bay residents . . didn't they vote against Pebble? Not by a large number, as I recall, but clearly by a large percentage . . a percentage which, if applied to a national campaign, would have amounted to a mandate.

    There are much larger issues afoot here than who gets to make what decision and when. Some disasters have longer range consequences than a few short salmon runs.

    Attachment 62775

  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,293

    Default

    here in a link to wikipedia about Pebble that I found intersting. Lots of reference material to read....
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_Mine

    On topic, how fair is a process that has never denied a permit? I was looking for a link that wasn't clearly biased that states that, but couldn't find one. I would love it if someone could prove that somehow. (that wasn't on a page that was clearly against Pebble).
    I don't see the mine being anywhere near worth the risk it presents. I'm not against mining either. I'm fine with mining and to a point the associated pollutents. I am not fine with it in that place, at this time. It is simply not wise. Plus if it's worth so much money..........it's not going anywhere. It's still there, and will continue to still be there. If it's worth a jagillion dollers.......would it be ok for these foreign compainies to "only" make billions? I'd propose IF any mining occurs at this site, that a rail spur is built, and the payload is taken elsewhere. Final processing could occur somewhere else far away from the lake. Leach pits, and the overburden could be somewhere else. ... it would mean even MORE local jobs, and would spur our economy in many ways. It would be a way to do all this, but still protect BB if done right. Or if the only option ever is a huge pit, with lakes of polluted water held by earthen dams.............above the most amazing producer of wild salmon.......then forget it. (I hope, and will vote that way given a chance)

  20. #20
    Member sayak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Central peninsula, between the K-rivers
    Posts
    5,788

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Now, now, there's two sides to every coin, and the "jawbone of an ass" depends on which side is up, doesn't it?

    That said, who will naysay "careful, careful, sensitive development"? But "careful" about what? And "sensitive" to what? Corporate profits? The environment? Human community?

    Therein lies the rub.

    As for Bristol Bay residents . . didn't they vote against Pebble? Not by a large number, as I recall, but clearly by a large percentage . . a percentage which, if applied to a national campaign, would have amounted to a mandate.

    There are much larger issues afoot here than who gets to make what decision and when. Some disasters have longer range consequences than a few short salmon runs.

    Attachment 62775
    The vote was not a mandate; 280-246.
    Obviously "careful" (and I only meant to write it once) means toward the environment. How could it go any other way with millions of anti-mining folks, from all over the world, watching?
    I was born in a mining town in a mining state. I am slowly dying as a result of that mine. I am not a huge advocate of mining, but I am a huge advocate for people getting off the government tit, which constitutes a large percentage of the population out there. And it isn't even that many people who actually fish in the Illiamna area because they lost their chance for a limited entry permit in the early 70s WHEN THE SALMON DIDN"T COME and they didn't go down to the bay. Many in the Illiamna region rely on other income or welfare to get by. Most of the anti-mining money has come from Seattle and from the richest, most self endulgent man in Alaska, Bob Gillam.
    As I have mentioned before, I love that country. I have hunted in that region. I really don't want to see a mine there either, but I fear that ANY development, anywhere in the state will follow the pattern now being used against Pebble: create fear through misinformation and half-truths and sue, sue, sue.

Page 1 of 17 12311 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •