Critics: EPA is 'rushing' mining report

Aug. 13, 2012 at 4:46 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The review process of proposals for large-scale mining in southwest Alaska is being rushed, a group of independent scientists say.

The scientists tasked with reviewing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's report on plans by Pebble LP for a potential gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay region, which could become one of the world's largest, said the report needs more work, Greenwire reported.

The EPA's unprecedented decision to base its draft report on a hypothetical mine -- no plan has been submitted or permit applied for -- is problematic, the reviewing scientists said,

Several suggested the agency's report may need revisions to portray the true impacts of a major mine.

"There's been little attention in the assessment to mitigation," University of Idaho hydrology researcher Charles Slaughter said. "In this landscape, restoration takes a long time."

The scientists acknowledged some of the concerns of fishermen and environmentalists about fish habitats and the long-term management of mine waste.

"I would want all of us to think hard about that particular issue," said Roy Stein, an Ohio State University fisheries and aquatic biology researcher who is also chairing the scientific peer-review panel.

The American Resources Policy Network, a non-partisan education and public policy research organization, said it wants the EPA to follow the rigorous, well-established permitting process for new mines and not allow special interests to rush the process.

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