The Pebble Discovery Process Continues

Photo courtesy Emma Forsberg, Flickr, July 8, 2007

The Alice Rogoff’s anti-development fish wrapper ran its latest anti-Pebble screed last month. The opinion piece was penned by one Alannah Hurley, executive director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. You can find the piece here:

In it, she accuses the Pebble Partnership of using the legal process to bankrupt and silence critics. Of course, when you engage in a criminal conspiracy to corrupt the public process like it increasingly looks like the EPA, anti-Pebble activists and groups did in preparing the vacuous “watershed assessment”, the public process will be used to fix that particular problem.

The Pebble Partnership got former US Senator and SECDEF William Cohen to review the process that the EPA used to produce that assessment. Cohen’s group found that the EPA at best had treated Pebble unfairly. I thought the public process was supposed to be fair, open and transparent. Not so if you oppose this particular (or any other officially designated unclean) mine. Hurley denigrates Cohen’s expertise as neither being a scientist or a legal expert, calling the report “propaganda.” While SECDEF Cohen may not be a scientist, he most certainly is a legal expert, something Ms. Hurley could have found in three seconds with a simple Google search. Most importantly, Cohen knows how Washington works, which is precisely what his report details – the EPA choosing sides and playing as a partisan hack in this matter rather than as an honest broker. You can find the report here:

The Cohen report finds that the EPA orchestrated the process to reach a predetermined conclusion, that of generating a document that would allow them to preemptively shut down the entire permitting process via a Clean Water Act Section 404(c) determination. Cohen notes convenient gaps in the EPA’s paper trail and suggests that those gaps will be filled via court process, which leads us to the second part of today’s piece – depositions.

Ms. Hurley decries subpoenas aimed at those that participated in the watershed assessment by the EPA, including various Bristol Bay and national environmental groups, and individuals that opposed the mine. Like I said earlier, if you pervert the public process with the goal of getting a preordained result, don’t be a bit surprised if someone wants to find out precisely how that public process was perverted. That is what the court case is all about. Perhaps Ms. Hurley or her group has something to hide.

Final observation is perhaps opposition by Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) is not about the Sainted Salmon at all. I have come to believe that its opposition is purely self-interest, using the public process to remove a competing mine in the region. Granted that Pebble is ten times the size of what either BBNC or Donlin Creek are going to be, it still would be able to mine and sell similar metals for less than either mine would be able to send to market. And given that BBNC’s mining operations work in the Bristol Bay watershed and Donlin works in the Kuskokwim watershed which also has salmon, and green opposition to both have been crickets so far, I would submit that opposition to Pebble has nothing at all to do with fish.

Follow the money. Always follow the money.