U.S. House to probe Pebble denial

The science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will probe the EPA’s denial of a permit for the Pebble Mine in Southwest.

In a letter sent Wednesday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas and chairman of the committee, asked the agency to send Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran for an interview at a Nov. 5 hearing.

The EPA has been accused by the Pebble Partnership, which backs the mine, of basing its denial on political motives rather than science. Last week, a Pebble Partnership-commissioned report said the EPA gave special treatment to groups that wanted to block the massive gold and copper mine.

Outside Republicans have said the EPA made a mistake by blocking the project before the Pebble Partnership even applied for a permit.

“A preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine before the EPA has all the facts sets a dangerous precedent,” Smith said in a statement.

Alaskans — Republican, Democrat and independent alike — share widespread distaste for the Pebble Mine project because it would take place in the Bristol Bay watershed, one of the most productive sockeye salmon regions in Alaska.

A statewide ballot measure in November that gave the Alaska Legislature the power to prohibit mining projects in Bristol Bay passed by almost a 2:1 margin, with 65.94 percent of voters in favor.

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