Pebble Limited Partnership and Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty had requested the federal agency keep comments open in order to avoid a “rush to judgement.”
The assessment, released this spring, is a draft version of a document the EPA could use to block Pebble Mine under the Clean Water Act. The EPA itself has repeatedly stated that the assessment, as written, “in no way prejudges future consideration of proposed mining activities.”
In public meetings held in Alaska and Seattle following the assessment’s release, public commentary ran in favor of the assessment’s findings.
Various environmental and fishing organizations had opposed an extension to the assessment’s public comment period, saying that the assessment — which states that no mine can be developed without significant impact — is adequate.
“It was the right thing for EPA to stay with their original timeline. There is overwhelming support for the watershed assessment in the region,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who represents the region in the Alaska Legislature, in
Similar statements were released by the Bristol Bay Native Corporation and Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, a nationwide coalition opposing the mine.
Not everyone was happy with the decision, however. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement she was “disappointed that the EPA’s Washington-based leaders have failed to see the benefits of allowing Alaskans adequate time to comment on an assessment that could have significant consequences for the future of our state.”
A scientific peer review of the study is planned for later this summer in Anchorage.
Public comments on the watershed assessment are being accepted until July 23 at http://1.usa.gov/LslmCk or by email at ORD.Docket@epa.gov. Include Docket #EPA-HQ-ORD-2012-0276 in the subject line of the email.
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